Enculturation

Enculturation is the process in which people are taught the dynamics of the culture that they live in and acquire values that are appropriate or necessary to that culture and the worldviews associated with them. As part of this process, the individual’s limits are tested by their parents, other adults in their life, and sometimes even peers. If they are successful, enculturation can result in competence regarding the values, rituals, and language of the culture under study. 

The process of enculturation, which is generally discussed in the field of anthropology, is related to socialization, a concept that centers itself around the field of sociology. Both describe the adaptation of an individual with respect to social groups by the absorption of ideas, beliefs, and practices that surround them. In certain disciplines, socialization depends on the deliberate shaping of the individual. In others, it may cover both informal as well as deliberate enculturation.

The process of absorbing and learning about culture does not necessarily have to be social, direct or conscious. Transmission of culture can occur in several forms, although the most common social methods involve observing other individuals who are being taught or instructed in the same. Less obvious mechanisms of enculturation include learning about one’s culture from the media, the information environment, and various social technologies, which can lead to cultural adaptation and transmission across societies. A very good example of this is the diffusion of hip-hop culture into the United States as well as in communities beyond its American origins.

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