Difference Between Acculturation and Enculturation (With Table)

Every person in this world acquires knowledge from birth through interaction; this knowledge could be in any form, it can be of culture, education, behaviour, and many more. This is essential and non-avoidable. Culture is something individual learns by not making such efforts. From birth, he absorbs his surroundings and people and develops the same culture. And this is important that the culture transfers from one generation to another generation to make sure the particular culture, importance, belief does not vanish.

Acculturation vs Enculturation

The difference between Acculturation and Enculturation is that, in Enculturation, individual gains knowledge of his own culture or one culture only, but in Acculturation, individual gains knowledge of more than one culture. Another difference could be the importance and essentiality. Enculturation is more important and essential than Acculturation which is not that essential.

Acculturation is a process in which an individual learns the culture and values of more than one culture, mainly the culture of another region of the country. This takes place when an individual moves to a different region to live. This not very essential for survival but could be beneficial.

Enculturation is a process in which an individual learns the culture and norms in the surrounding. Mostly it is his own culture (culture followed in his family) that is dominant. This process starts from the birth itself. It is usually learned from the region where the individual lives in.

Comparison Table Between Acculturation and Enculturation

Parameters of ComparisonAcculturationEnculturation
DefinitionAbsorption of other’s cultureProcess of acquiring dominant culture
Cultures involvedMinimum two or moreMinimum one
Essential forNot as much essential but can be beneficialFor survival and livelihood
InfluenceMore influence of dominant culture.There only one culture therefore no such influence
ExampleAfter marriage, both partners try to understand each other’s culture.After birth when the child starts learning things and eventually his/her culture.

What is Acculturation?

It is the process of learning the culture, beliefs, and languages, etc. of others’ culture by an individual, especially when he is moving to a different country or region. It is necessary for survival but can be beneficial in some cases; otherwise it can be avoided. Although sometimes it can be very hectic as it creates pressure on the individual as it sometimes has to be done in a short period f time. It involves two methods:

  1. Direct Method: in this method, the process of acculturation takes place directly through social interaction. It happens when a person talks to another person of a different culture, for example, when a couple gets married.
  2. Indirect Method: in this method, the process of acculturation takes place indirectly through some source of mass media of communication. The main and easy source of this is the internet.

Advantages of Acculturation can be:

  1. It increases the knowledge of the individual as he gets information about the different cultures, values, importance, and other things.
  2. The individual becomes flexible while adjusting to the new environment among new people.

Most of the time, the confusion arises in an individual between the two cultures, but in the end, the dominant culture is the one that is practised and followed by him.

What is Enculturation?

It is a process of learning and knowing own culture, importance, and beliefs individual. In this method, no external source is required most of the time. The knowledge is inherited within the family members or the relatives. This is considered to be the first step in getting familiar with any culture as this is his own culture, and the process starts from birth.

This is considered to be an automatic process as no special preparation has to be done to start this. It starts when the child starts to speak or when he observes his festivals; he grows up learning his whole life that culture. Where Acculturation is not mandatory for survival, this process, on the other hand, is mandatory and essential for survival as it the basis of an individual. And through this, only the individual gets accepted by his society.

It is the first step of getting to know the culture. It is a comparatively less hectic and more easy process as there is no time limit, and it starts early. Unlike Acculturation which has types, in Enculturation, there is mainly one type, i.e. direct method it this communication plays a vital role.

Main Differences Between Acculturation and Enculturation

  1. In the process of Acculturation, there is more than two culture involved, whereas in Enculturation process there is mainly learning of one culture is involved.
  2. Enculturation is essential for survival as a person must be aware of his own culture, position, and roles to live in society, whereas Acculturation is not much essential for survival. It is only necessary if a person travels to some other country.
  3. There is less or no risk of assimilation involved in the process of Enculturation, but there is always the risk of assimilation involved in the process of Acculturation.
  4. Enculturation is the first step of a child, i.e. it starts right after the birth of the child, but it is not the same with Acculturation which takes place much later and is a choice.
  5. In Enculturation, there is only one culture present. Therefore, there is no presence of other culture’s influence, but in Acculturation, the dominant culture has more influence on the other culture.


Enculturation is the primary stage that takes place early, and acculturation is the secondary and optional stage. Both of these are their individual significance and role in society. Enculturation is unavoidable as every person in this world acquires at least one culture from his family and surroundings from birth.

Therefore, it becomes essential. While Acculturation can be avoided, but it becomes essential when a person has to travel to another country for a longer duration, then it is necessary to know its society, religion, and culture. It important significant can be that through this process person explores about different people and their culture which increases his knowledge and he gains a sense of confidence.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-08029-013
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2334
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