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Enculturation is the process by which people learn the requirements of their surrounding culture and acquire values and behaviours appropriate or necessary in that culture. 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 can be conscious or unconscious, therefore can support both the Marxist and the hegemonic arguments. There are three ways a person learns a culture. Direct teaching of a culture is done, this is what happens when you don't pay attention, mostly by the parents, when a person is told to do something because it is right and to not do something because it is bad. For example, when children ask for something, they are constantly asked "What do you say?" and the child is expected to remember to say "please." The second conscious way a person learns a culture is to watch others around them and to emulate their behavior. An example would be using different slang with different cliques in school. Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture. All three kinds of culturation happen simultaneously and all the time.
Enculturation helps mould a person into an acceptable member of society. Culture influences everything that a person does, whether they are aware of it or not. Enculturation is a lifelong process that helps unify people. Even as a culture changes, core beliefs, values, worldviews, and child-rearing practices stay the same. How many times has a parent said "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" when their child wanted to fit in with the crowd? Both are playing roles in the enculturation. The child wants to be included in the subculture of their peers, and the parent wants to instill individualism in the child, through direct teaching. Not only does one become encultured, but also makes someone else encultured.
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.
See also 
- Grace, Lindsay. "Handbook of Research on Computational Arts and Creative Informatics: The Challenge of Enculturation in the Arts, 2009, IGI Global Press; ISBN 978-1-60566-352-4; 312-324.
- 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 Encyc. of Philosophy)