Definitions of Acculturation

Acculturation is the process through which an individual, a group of people or a people acquires and assimilates the features and elements of another culture different from their own.

In this way and for various reasons many individuals or social groups have modified or adapted various cultural elements of their own for others, putting their culture in danger of loss.

It is worth mentioning that acculturation is a process that has taken place since ancient times throughout the history of man and from the first moment in which different social communities made contact.

Acculturation occurs in varying degrees of intensity according to the cultural modifications that are carried out, which can range from the slightest, such as the use of a new word, to the most noticeable and notorious as the modification of a social value.

In general, the traits of the dominant cultures over the weakest are adopted. That is, changes are imposed but asymmetrically, because although there may be a mutual exchange of cultures, one will always excel and dominate in the other.

It can be seen as clear examples of acculturation all those cases of colonized peoples, in which external customs were more dominant and, in some cases destructive, over those that modified or altered.

Acculturation is a constant process, whether due to direct or indirect cause of globalization, economic exchanges or technological advances that facilitate interconnection and communication, among others. In these cases one can speak of acculturation achieved peacefully.

However, it can also be achieved through a violent process when armed clashes are triggered and the groups with the greatest strength overcome and dominate, in different ways and culturally, the weakest.

However, acculturation, whether individual or group, is not a punctual event, on the contrary, it is generated over time in a continuous and systematic way. These modifications take a time in which resistance and domination are perceived.

Acculturation Examples

There are several examples of acculturation. Among the most prominent can be mentioned the following:

  • The colonization of America is an example of violent acculturation. The colonizers faced the native groups and won the fight. Consequently they imposed their customs, languages, values, religion, among others, on the cultures and traditions of the indigenous communities.
  • Migration is also an example of acculturation. When there are important human groups that migrate from one country to another, they carry their culture with them, they instill the smallest. However, many others are losing their traditions and adapt to the culture of where they are.
  • With globalization there have also been several acculturation cases as a result of cultural exchange. Among them we can mention the use of words in foreign languages, usually in English, to refer to a product or service.
  • Another example of acculturation is the consumption of exported products, either because of their quality or low price, which also derive from the adoption of new customs and market domination.

Acculturation and transculturation

As mentioned throughout the text, acculturation refers to the process through which the own culture is changed, totally or partially, by another.

On the other hand, it is termed as acculturation process through which a people or community exchanges and adopts different cultural traits to themselves gradually, as people communicate and relate.

Now, both terms are related because they affect the original culture of a group, as well as the personal and social identity of a people.

The alteration of cultural bases affects individuals, especially their identity, customs and social values. Hence, acculturation or transculturation has both positive and negative effects on individuals.