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Enculturation is the process by which people learn the dynamics of their surrounding culture and acquire values and norms appropriate or necessary to that culture and its worldviews. As part of this process, the influences that limit, direct, or shape the individual (whether deliberately or not) include parents, other adults, and peers. If successful, enculturation results in competence in the language, values, and rituals of the culture.
Enculturation is related to socialization. In some academic fields, socialization refers to the deliberate shaping of the individual. In others, the word may cover both deliberate and informal enculturation.
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 where 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 is sometimes referred to as acculturation, a word recently used to more distinctively refer only to exchanges of cultural features with foreign cultures. Note that this is a recent development, as acculturation in some literatures has the same meaning as enculturation.
- School & Society: Learning Content through Culture. Henry T. Trueba (editor), Concha Delgado-Gaitan (editor). Praeger Publishers. New York. 1988. p. 167
- Enculturation and Acculturation
- Community empowerment
- Concepts of moral character, historical and contemporary (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)