AskDefine | Define enculturation

Dictionary Definition

enculturation n : the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture; "the socialization of children to the norms of their culture" [syn: socialization, socialisation, acculturation]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the process by which an individual adopts the behaviour patterns of the culture in which he or she is immersed

Extensive Definition

Enculturation is the process whereby an established culture teaches an individual by repetition its accepted norms and values, so that the individual can become an accepted member of the society and find his or her suitable role. Most importantly, it establishes a context of boundaries and correctness that dictates what is and is not permissible within that society's framework.
It is the process of learning that takes the person and teaches him or her the ways of life of their people or country. It is a life-long process, affecting not only the child, but the adult too. Enculturation is learned through communication in the form of speech, words, and gestures. We also learn through the unique images, objects, places and experiences that are characteristic of different cultures. The six things of culture that are learned are: technological, economic, political, interactive, ideological and world view.
Conrad Phillip Kottak (in Window on Humanity ) writes:
Enculturation is the process where the culture that is currently established teaches an individual the accepted norms and values of the culture or society in which the individual lives. The individual can become an accepted member and fulfill the needed functions and roles of the group. Most importantly the individual knows and establishes a context of boundaries and accepted behavior that dictates what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of that society. It teaches the individual their role within society as well as what is accepted behavior within that society and lifestyle"
Enculturation can be conscious or unconscious, therefore can support both the marxist and the hegemonic arguments. There are three ways a person learns a culture. Direct teaching of a culture is done, this is what happens when you don't pay attention, mostly by the parents , when a person is told to do something because it is right and to not do something because it is bad. For example, when children ask for something, they are constantly asked "What do you say?" and the child is expected to remember to say "please." The second conscious way a person learns a culture is to watch others around them and to emulate their behavior. An example would be using different slang with different cliques in school. Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture. All three kinds of culturation happen simultaneously and all the time.
Enculturation helps mold a person into an acceptable member of society. Culture influences everything that a person does, whether they are aware of it or not. Enculturation is a life-long process that helps unify people. Even as a culture changes, core beliefs, values, worldviews, and child-rearing practices stay the same. How many times has a parent said "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" when their child wanted to fit in with the crowd? Both are playing roles in the enculturation. The child wants to be included in the subculture of their peers, and the parent wants to instill individualism in the child, through direct teaching. Not only does one become encultured, but also makes someone else encultured.
Enculturation is sometimes referred to as acculturation, a word which recently has been used to more distinctively refer only to exchanges of cultural features with foreign cultures. Note that this is a recent development, as acculturation in certain pre-Wikipedia literatures has the same meaning as enculturation.
Acclimation is adaption to the physical environment, such as to the local climate. When used less strictly, these terms are nearly synonymous: acclimation, acculturation, and enculturation.
Socialization in the study of animal and human behavior is the process by which human beings or animals learn to adopt the behavior patterns of the community in which they live.
Education is a social science that encompasses teaching and learning specific knowledge, beliefs, and skills. Modern education is a part of enculturation, but with methods and goals that attempt to be more consciously chosen, objective and practical (as opposed to, say, transmission of non-rational tradition), with ideas more likely to be shared by a majority. It may evince multi-cultural goals.
enculturation in Czech: Enkulturace
enculturation in German: Enkulturation
enculturation in Spanish: Enculturación
enculturation in French: Enculturation
enculturation in Italian: Inculturazione
enculturation in Slovak: Enkulturácia
enculturation in Finnish: Enkulturisoituminen
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