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culture changes resulting from contact among various societies over time. Contact may have distinct results, such as the borrowing of certain traits by one cultureculture,
in anthropology, the integrated system of socially acquired values, beliefs, and rules of conduct which delimit the range of accepted behaviors in any given society. Cultural differences distinguish societies from one another.
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 from another, or the relative fusion of separate cultures. Early studies of acculturation reacted against the predominant trend of trying to reconstruct cultures of presumably isolated societies. Such work was faulted for implying that various cultural groups enjoyed an unchanging, precontact period. In this view, the anthropologist's job seemed quite simple, since each culture could be perceived as a unitary whole. Interactions with other peoples have, in fact, always been a significant feature of social life. Early studies of contact called attention to resulting social and individual psychological disturbances. Studies today often call attention to the development of one complex world system, in which some societies dominate others economically, politically, and socially. Many cultural theorists also observe the ways in which cultural groups resist domination, often working against acculturation in the process. Syncretism occurs when a subordinate group molds elements of a dominant culture to fit its own traditions. Acculturation differs from assimilation, in which different ethnic groups combine to form a new culture.


  1. (especially in CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY) a process in which contacts between different cultural groups lead to the acquisition of new cultural patterns by one, or perhaps both groups, with the adoption of all or parts of the other's culture.
  2. any transmission of culture between groups, including transfer between generations (although in this instance the terms ENCULTURATION and SOCIALIZATION are more usual).



the process of mutual influence of cultures; the total or partial acceptance by one people of the culture of another, usually more developed, people.

The term acculturation first received scholarly usage in the USA in the 1930’s in connection with a study of the contemporary culture of the American Indians. Later, American ethnographers also studied the acculturation of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Oceania, using the term to conceal the enforced assimilation of oppressed peoples.

After the war the problem of acculturation occupied a prominent position in the works of scholars in India and Latin America—that is, in countries where national consolidation involved a population made up of groups with diverse origins and various levels of cultural and historical development.

The study of the processes of acculturation demands a historical approach to the culture of the peoples being studied. In Soviet literature the term acculturation has not been given an independent meaning, but the processes it designates have been successfully studied by Soviet ethnographers as processes of assimilation and rapprochement of peoples.


Bakhta, V. M. “Problema akkul’turatsii v sovremennoi etnograficheskoi literature SShA.” In the anthology Sovremennaia amerikanskaia etnografiia. Moscow, 1963. (With bibliography.)


References in periodicals archive ?
Participants engaged in a dialogue about the process of acculturating from tribal lands to predominately White postsecondary settings throughout all data collection points.
Recalling that materialism is more than purchase volume reminds us that acculturating individuals may increase purchases in an attempt to assimilate with a new culture without increasing levels of possessiveness, envy, and non-generosity (materialism).
Acculturation, in the conventional understanding of the term, is largely irrelevant in a mass consumer culture to which the entire world is acculturating.
Drawing on their own words, Lynch-Brennan (retired, New York State Education Department; PhD, history) depicts their background in Ireland, work lives, and role in acculturating the Irish in America.
Education has always played a critical role in acculturating immigrants, transforming them into American citizens.
of New York- Plattsburgh), a native of the area and a French-Canadian descendant, provides a study of French-Canadians in Lewiston, Maine, and how they retained their ethnic identity while acculturating to American society.
Coverage includes an overview of the main theories and concepts within the field; issues pertaining to research design, methodology and measurement; research findings, both general and specific, on the various kinds of acculturating groups that are found in plural societies; research findings from a variety of societies of settlement, where much of the investigative work on acculturation has been taking place; and applications, drawing upon both theory and empirical findings to address issues of work, school, society and health that may arise in plural societies as a result of acculturation.