1. (noun) The process of change that occurs when two or more cultures come into contact.

Example: Native Americans replacing or modifying certain cultural elements such dress, language, or religion upon contact with Europeans.

2. (noun) The resulting cultural change when two or more cultures come into contact.

Example: The loss of some Native American customs and languages due to the arrival of Europeans.

Audio Pronunciation: (ac·cul·tur·a·tion)

Download Audio Pronunciation: acculturation.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: acculturations
  • When an individual or group maintain aspects of their identity while integrating aspects of another culture they develop cultural pluralism such as when immigrants learn the language of their new home.
  • Amalgamation (also called hybridization) is when two cultures merge into a new culture but maintain aspects of both and developed new synthesized aspects such Mexico which is the confluence of Native American and Spanish cultures.
  • In contrast to acculturation, enculturation is the process of an individual or group learning and adapting to the norms and values of a culture (or subculture) in which they are immersed (e.g. learning a new language or clothing style).
  • Some sources list acculturation, enculturation, and socialization as synonyms, while these terms are similar and easily confused, they are not synonyms in an academic context.
  • Also called assimilation.
  • Acculturation used in a sentence: Native Americans experiences acculturation after contact with Europeans.
  • Acculturation is the process by which a culture or (noun) acculturator (verb) acculturates an individual (adverb) acculturatively through an (adjective) acculturational or (adjective) acculturative process to become (adjective) acculturated.

Related Quotations:

  • “The kind of person we become depends greatly on what we learn during our formative years from our surrounding social groups and social environment” (Kendall 2006:105).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 



Kendall, Diane. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicolas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Collins. 2003. Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Ember, Carol R., and Melvin Ember, eds. 2003. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World’s Cultures. New York: Springer.

Farlex. (N.d.) Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. Farlex. (

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


How to Cite the Definition of Acculturation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “acculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 26, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

acculturation. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “acculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 26, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“acculturation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 26 Jun. 2019. <>.