Editorials

ACCULTURATION

SYLLABUS TOPIC- SOCIAL JUSTICE , SOCIAL ISSUES, CULTURE , GLOBALISATION

DEFINITION

changes that occur when two or more groups come in contact with each other and
exchange aspects of their cultures

Concept coined by American geologist John Wesley Powell in 1880- psychological
changes induced in people due to cross-cultural imitation, resulting from the interaction
with different cultures.

Acculturation affects various aspects of life, including dietary patterns, fashion, art,
architecture, work culture, and literature.
The process can occur at both individual and group levels, as well as between groups
that may not be a majority or a minority in society.

Assimilation — a process in which groups adopt a new culture that virtually replaces their
original culture, leaving only traces behind.

It occurs when the importance given to one’s culture is minuscule and where ‘fitting in’ is
given high significance, deeming it necessary for survival in a new cultural space. This
outcome is likely to occur in societies that are “melting pots” into which new members are
absorbed.

Separation– refers to the process wherein an individual/group comes in contact with a new
cultural group, but does not embrace aspects of the new culture, as they wish to maintain
their own unique identity without being ‘contaminated’ by the values and norms of another
culture.

The rejection of a new culture while maintaining one’s own traditions and customs usually
occurs in culturally or racially segregated societies.

Integration-an individual/group adapts to a new culture while maintaining their original
culture. Here cultural adoption is considered significant for the smooth functioning of
society.

Such a strategy is used in a multicultural society with a relatively high proportion of
minority groups.

Marginalisation – occurs when individuals/groups barely interact with a new cultural group.
This strategy results in the isolation of the person or group, pushing them aside to the
corners of society, forgotten by the rest

In a society where cultural exclusion is practised, it becomes almost impossible to interact
and integrate with a different cultural group due to the barriers created between the two.

Transmutation is the process in which importance is placed on both, maintaining one’s
own culture while also adopting aspects of a new culture. But instead of integrating and
switching between the codes and conducts of two different cultures, the cultures are
amalgamated into creating a new one. Thus, a unique blend of two cultures creates a new
one that is accepted by both individuals or groups.

Examples that portray the process of acculturation between the Hindu and Christian
cultures in the country.

1. The architectures of Christian Churches in Kerala like the Cheriapally (small church) in
Kottayam or the Pazhaya Suriyani Pally (old Syrian church) in Chengannur have marks of
Hindu architectural styles.

2. Sculptures of Christian deities inside a lotus similar to that of Hindu deities, sculptures
of animals like cows, elephants, and monkeys carved onto the church walls,

3. the use of nilavilakku or traditional temple lamps in churches are examples of the
integration of Hindu and Christian traditions and cultures in Indian society.

CONCLUSION

1. Acculturation is an inevitable social process, as migration and interactions with different
cultures have always been part of the evolution of civilisation
2. It allows us to learn and understand new aspects of various cultures and appreciate
their differences.
3. A harmonious exchange of cultures between various groups is imperative for a
peaceful society

Author

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