Processes of Culture Change Transculturation

Transculturation is defined as “Cultural change induced by introduction of elements of a foreign culture or the introduction of foreign elements into an established culture.” It is similar to acculturation, but generally transculturation refers to a group rather then an individual although the terms are often used interchangeable or even reversed. Transculturation is also different then assimilation which means change to a different culture.

Individuals experience transculturation when they more to a foreign a country and to a lesser degree when they move to another state or city. Transculturation, like acculturation, involves the following four stages, elation, resistance, transformation, and integration.

The differences in culture are at first new and exciting and then later become annoying as a home sickness develops; these are the first two stages. With the transformation stage, eventually the home sickness gives way to a greater appreciation of the new home for its unique features and not just for its novelty. Finally, the person has integrated into his new environment and reached a point where he is equally as comfortable in his new environment as he is with his old one. 

Transculturation is not just limited to traveling to different places but from entering into different social environments as well. A child entering school for the first time experiences transculturation; the culture of the classroom is different from the one he has grown accustomed to at home. He must learn to move between the two environments and will often adopt elements of the culture he learns at school into his home life. This can sometimes be disconcerting to parents who discover to their dismay that the vocabulary of their child’s schoolmates is more colorful then that used in their home.

Leaving home for college or one’s own apartment involves a degree of transculturation, and getting married as well. A marriage between individuals of different ethnic background or religions can involve a considerable degree of transculturation. Eventually a compromise is achieved as each partner takes on parts of the other’s culture. This compromise is done, for the most part, on a subconscious level and reflects a natural tendency to resolve conflicts given time. With each party adapting aspects of the other’s culture, the gap between the cultures is narrowed.

Basically, transculturation is the adaptation to a different cultural environment by blending part of that culture into one’s own native culture. The cultures may be very different or only slightly different, but in either case it is a survival technique just as important to human survival as that of a predator learning to adjust its hunting methods for new game, or vegetation adapting to environmental climate changes.