Difference Between Acculturation and Assimilation (With Table)

Acculturation and Assimilation are related to religion in one way or another. When two religions or cultures collide, assimilation and acculturation occur. Both words are very complicated and used in sociology and anthropology.

Acculturation vs Assimilation

The basic difference between accumulation and assimilation is that accumulation leaves one’s culture and moves to another new, prominent, powerful culture. In accumulation, people learn new things but keep their original values to themselves. On the other hand, assimilation is moving from the minority culture to the majority culture. In assimilation, people forget their roots.

Difference Between Acculturation and Assimilation

Acculturation is a two-way process. If the culture has gone under a change, but it maintained the status of food, tradition, language, etc., from the minority culture to distinguish them as distinct cultures. It means the culture has undergone acculturation.

Assimilation is a one-way process. The movement of a minority culture to the majority culture is called Assimilation. In this process, the minority culture loses all its identity that sets them apart from the minority culture.

Comparison Table Between Acculturation and Assimilation

DefinitionIt is the movement of people from one tradition or culture to another tradition or culture. The movement of people from a minority culture to the majority culture.
ExampleIt is a one-way process that means the minority group loses its identity when moving to the majority group.The basic example for this one is Language.
EffectAn example is Yoga, which accumulated in North America because of its advantages.An example of this is Yoga, which accumulated in North America because of its advantages.
CauseThis might be the result of Population migration.Assimilation is voluntary but sometimes caused by immigration due to war and scarcity of important things.
OutcomesIt allows the interaction of tradition between two or more groups without the need to erase and remove each other’s culture.For some groups and some people, assimilation can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and sadness. 
BenefitAssimilation tends to break the cultural barrier by interacting with one another.Assimilation tends to break the culture barrier by interacting with one another.

What is Acculturation?

There are various definitions for Acculturation. When two or more cultures interact, they exchange their values with each other but do not leave their root, which is termed Acculturation. Sometimes, the member of this is referred to as bicultural.

It also means the change in the culture of a minority group when they move to the majority group. Still, they can retain original and basic cultural markers like language, food, clothing, and tradition. It involves the tendency of humans to learn, prosper, and survive in another culture. 

 For instance, a person in the United States of America is of Indian origin. He is trying to adopt the culture of America by maintaining his Indian roots. This type of example comes under the category of Acculturation. 

The popularity of chips, burgers, pizzas, and other calories-related food items among ethnic minorities is also an example of Acculturation. 

What is Assimilation

Similar to Acculturation, there are many definitions for Assimilation as well. The dictionary meaning of assimilation is absorbing experience or information, and it also means being assimilated. 

Assimilation is a process in which a person from one group becomes similar to another group. And they don’t retain their original culture and tradition. When a person gets absorbed in a dominant culture because of migration, he is in the process of assimilation.

In assimilation, the way of thinking, acting, speaking, and even behaving becomes part of the dominant group, and the ethnic identity disappears. However, it does not mean that the dominant group fully accepts them. People who assimilated celebrate their festivals and eat their particular foods. 

For instance, the United States of America has become the center of immigrants from different countries.

No matter to what extent a group adopts another group’s culture, it can never be fully assimilated. Cultural assimilation goes even in governments where these people are given the position of the second tier. This does not mean they don’t have rights. They do have but somewhat lesser than the person who belongs from there.

Main Differences Between Acculturation and Assimilation

  1. During Acculturation, the identity, like traditions and customs of minority groups, is not mitigated. On the other hand, during Assimilation, the people of the minority groups get absorbed in the deeds of the majority group so much that they forget about their original or home culture.
  2. In the case of Acculturation, the culture of minorities does not change. On the other hand, in the case of Assimilation, the minority culture gets replaced by the majority culture.
  3. During Acculturation, the majority group gets affected by adding a minority group. In simple words, Accumulation is a two-way process, which means both groups are affected directly or indirectly. On the other hand, in Assimilation, the majority group is not affected by the movement of the minority group. In simple terms, this is a one-way process.
  4. In Acculturation, the transfer of culture and values takes place between two groups. On the other hand, in Assimilation, the minority group absorbs the culture and values of the majority group. 


Acculturation is the coexistence of two or more groups without affecting each other’s group. The adaptation of foreign foods and foreign descent are the most common examples. Assimilation is when a group adopts another group’s culture and blends in that group completely. The migration of many people from one place to another is a common example of Assimilation.


  1. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1525/ae.1974.1.2.02a00090
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/665786

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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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