1. (noun) The gradual 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).

2. (noun) Learning how to become a member of a society or culture.


  1. A foreign exchange student learning to navigate a new educational system, local customs, and new foods.
  2. Refugees adapting to a new place after fleeing their homeland.

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

Download Audio Pronunciation: enculturation.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: enculturations
  • Enculturation can be intentional or unintentional and formal or informal.
  • Enculturation can occur due to cultural contact or innovation and can lead to social acceptance.
  • In contrast to enculturation, acculturation is the process of change that occurs when two or more cultures come into contact.
  • Enculturation is similar to socialization and often used synonymously. The distinction between the two is enculturation is learning cultural norms and socialization is learning societal norms, however, neither process occurs independent of the other. Enculturation typically refers to  “people” in general and is informal and socialization typically refers to children and is formal or deliberate.
  • 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.
  • Variant form: inculturation
  • Enculturation used in a sentence: Governments enculturation tools to assist immigrants.
  • Enculturation is the process by which a culture or (noun) enculturator (verb) enculturates an individual (adverb) enculturatively through an (adjective) enculturational or (adjective) enculturative process to become (adjective) enculturated.

Related Quotation:

  • “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, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

How to Cite the Definition of Enculturation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “enculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 26, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

enculturation. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/

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

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “enculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 26, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“enculturation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 26 Jun. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/>.