When cultures come into contact, a number of interesting things happen.
Acculturation is where elements are transferred from one culture to the other. This is due to intercultural interaction which causes people to acquire new cultural practices without abandoning their own culture. It can happen at both social and individual levels.
Acculturation can be clearly observed when people migrate from their country of origin to another.
In the process, they take on the patterns and mannerisms of their new country usually voluntarily but sometimes by requirement.
The actual elements that can be transmitted vary in range. It can include diet, language, beliefs, values, mannerisms, technologies, and even negative things like substance abuse.
Acculturation should not be confused with assimilation.
Assimilation is just one possible result of acculturation in which there is a whole substitution or replacement of one culture with another.
This (i.e., assimilation) is considered to be the most extreme form of acculturation.
Besides, in acculturation, the transfer of elements is usually two-way traffic. However, in assimilation, the transfer occurs exclusively in one direction from one culture to the other.
Here are 10 Perfect examples of acculturation in today’s societies.
1. Native Americans and Pioneer white settlers
When European colonists first settled in America, they interacted with the Indians. In these harsh unfamiliar lands, the Europeans had to learn several survival tricks from the Indians.
Indians too adopted new European practices.
This was an example of acculturation between Indians and the white settlers. These exchanges took place despite the frequent friction between the two groups.
For example, some Indians wore European clothes while retaining their own attire like loincloths. Frontier settlers adapted Indian foods, canoes, or clothing.
2. Immigration programs
Immigration programs such as the ones allowing immigrants to America usually require the prospective immigrant to learn or master certain aspects of the country they are emigrating to such as the language, the laws, history, or the Constitution.
This is to ensure that the person can integrate well with the new nation. This is out of concern that the inability to integrate can lead to extreme tension between the newcomer’s culture and that of the new country.
3. Company culture
A business can have its own culture often defined by its leaders or founders.
However, this culture is not static or isolated. It keeps interacting with society and being reshaped by it.
To be successful, a business has to be responsive to customers’ tastes and cultural sensitivities.
This is an example of acculturation where a company adopts cultural values from its customer base and integrates them into its policies.
4. Musical styles
Have you noticed some common threads between music from different parts of the world?
The variety of music styles in America is an example of acculturation. This is usually called the melting pot from which a variety of cultures contributed such as
the original Native Americans, West African slaves, and the UK, Irish, German, and French immigrants.
These created a wide variety of musical genres such as jazz, R&B, folk, Tejano, folk, salsa, blues, and country.
These American genres have in turn interacted with cultures around the world to produce other genres which are a fusion of American music and foreign music.
Some languages such as English function as global languages across cultures. This is acculturation between British culture and other cultures.
Some countries have adopted foreign languages as their official or national languages.
For example, Anglophone or Francophone countries are those nations whose culture interacted with the British or French culture through colonization.
After gaining independence, these countries retained some elements of British or French culture such as the language.
6. Inter-Racial/intercultural marriage
One of the best examples of acculturation takes place through the intermarriage of people from different races or cultures.
The husband or wife may adopt some cultural elements of the spouse. For example, there have been several occasions when European women marry a Maasai Moran from East Africa.
They then begin to wear the traditional Maasai attire or a Shuka, settles in Maasai homesteads sometimes as co-wives, and eat the Maasai diet of cow meat, milk and blood.
This is an example of acculturation at a personal level.
7. Food dishes or recipes
As an American, you probably love sushi, the Japanese food that is popular with many Americans.
This is an example of acculturation where Japanese cultural items have been embraced in America.
Also, Indian, Chinese, and Mexican cuisines have been adopted with the US.
On the other hand, popular or mainstream US food such as French fries, mashed potatoes, or grilled cheese has been embraced by immigrants.
8. Naming of children
When Africans were captured from West Africa as slaves, their white captors changed their names to mostly English names.
This went on to their descendants so that the vast majority today have English names rather than their original African names.
This is an example of acculturation although it was compelled.
Another example is the use of Christian names in place of indigenous or tribal names.
Many communities around the world give their children Christian first names e.g., Peter, Paul, etc.
9. School or college environment
Have you been confused by the culture when you first got to boarding school or college?
The social classes there may be different from the one you come from. For example, if you are from a poor family, you may find yourself having to settle among students from wealthy backgrounds.
If you are moving to university from high school, you may find the environment of higher education quite different culturally.
Your new environment may require you to undergo acculturation so that you can better adapt to it.
10. Dressing style
Some dressing styles have become universal replacing or being worn along with traditional modes of dressing.
For example, the use of jeans which was originally an American brand has become universal.
Another example is the Muslim male attire of a robe and headdress. It has been embraced everywhere Islam has been introduced.
For example, communities in Nigeria, Chechnya, Indonesia, or Saudi Arabia wear the same costume even though they come from different cultures.
What would be the perfect antidote to clannishness? Well, we Latinize, westernize, Africanize, and more. This is the essence of acculturation!