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Definitions of Enculturation

(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).

Examples of Enculturation

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

Enculturation Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: en·cul·tur·a·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /in-kuhl-chuhr-rAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /in-kuhl-chuh-rAY-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English: /ɪnˌkʌltʃɚˈɹeɪʃən/
  • British English: /ɪnˌkʌltʃəˈɹeɪʃ(ə)n/

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.
  • 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.
  • Enculturation is similar to socialization and is 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.
  • Variant spelling: inculturation
  • 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

Additional Information

Related Terms


Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: 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/).

Cite the Definition of Enculturation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “enculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 22, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

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

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

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “enculturation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 22, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“enculturation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/enculturation/>.