Difference Between Enculturation and Acculturation

Enculturation vs Acculturation

Enculturation and acculturation are terms that are used in sociology and social anthropology, to explain different processes of absorption of cultural traits by the people. Both processes help in explaining socialization on individuals in a society. Enculturation helps a person living in a society imbibe and immerse social values of the culture that surrounds him. There is another term acculturation that is sometimes used for this very process and confuses many. There are subtle differences between enculturation and acculturation that will be highlighted in this article.


The process of socialization that helps a person to acquire social norms, values, behaviors, language and other tools of the culture that surrounds him in a society is labeled as enculturation. Much help in this process comes from parents, peers and siblings that provide the necessary push and pull to make a person learn what makes him socially more or better fit in his society. All people in the society learn about acceptable behaviors and the behaviors they need to avoid.


Acculturation is a process of socialization that takes place whenever there is a meeting of two different cultures. These changes taking place can be seen both at cultural as well as psychological levels. Both the cultures are affected with changes seen or felt in both cultures. The changes that can be seen easily are the changes in clothing, language, and customs or practices. However, despite claims by anthropologists and sociologists about acculturation being a two way process of change, there is proof to suggest that changes take place mostly in the norms and values apart from clothing and language of minorities living inside a country rather than affecting majority customs and traditions.

What is the difference between Enculturation and Acculturation?

• Both enculturation and acculturation are processes of socialization taking place in a society.

• Whereas enculturation is a process that helps an individual to imbibe social values, norms, customs etc. of the culture he lives in, acculturation is a two way change process that takes placed when there is a meeting of two cultures.

• In acculturation there are changes felt in both cultures though mostly it is the minority culture that gets changed by way of changed language, clothing, customs and practices.

• Enculturation helps an individual to survive and better fit into the culture he finds himself surrounded.

• No difference between the two terms is accepted in some countries where acculturation is considered as same as enculturation.