Acculturation vs. Assimilation

Written by: Samantha Arroyos, Partner


What comes to mind when you hear this word?

Is this a new term for you?

What about assimilation?

Do you see a difference between acculturation and assimilation?

You are right, there is a difference! Acculturation is defined as the blending of cultures, which leads to the preservation and optimization of diversity. While assimilation is the process where people of a minority learn to change their ways to be similar to the majority culture. You may recognize assimilation as the more widely known and used term. The question is, does this term express what you would like to communicate? When minorities form to majorities, this is not true inclusion. Assimilation is one culture absorbing another, this includes diminishing one’s cultural language, practices, clothing, religion, etc. When practicing acculturation, we embrace one another’s cultures. We practice true inclusion by understanding one another’s cultures, similarities, differences, and learning from one another. Practicing cultural addition rather than subtraction. Acculturation is not divisive but rather a practice of lifting one another up.

Through acculturation, future generations are bicultural, sharing the melded cultures of their family’s place of origin as well as the area they now reside. As a bicultural person, I’m able to appreciate and practice my family’s Spanish culture while also experiencing them in American cultural practices. I’m able to practice my Spanish with my Abuela y tias y tios while also popping fireworks and enjoying our 4th of July barbecue with my family on this weekend’s patriotic holiday! Not only am I able to live my bicultural life but I’m able to share this with my loved ones while also learning about their cultures! I learn from and connect with friends from Bolivia, Italy, Panama, Mexico, Germany, South Africa, the Philippines, Great Britain, and Malaysia! I’m able to have an appreciation not only for these people but for the cultures they have come from. Through this appreciation, acculturation helps to not only have my own diversity of thought but grow from theirs as well. We rise together and grow as one.

I’d love to learn more about your culture, comment down below to join the discussion!

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