What is Deculturation used for?

The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) does not include the term deculturation. The notion refers to the process that causes the loss of an individual’s cultural identity while adapting to a different culture.

Deculturation, therefore, develops when a subject or a community gradually loses its cultural characteristics as part of its adaptation to a different culture. The concept is sometimes confused with similar ones, such as acculturation or enculturation.

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Acculturation is the incorporation into one’s own culture of elements from another. Enculturation, meanwhile, involves the transmission of cultural characteristics from one culture to another. In the case of deculturation, on the other hand, one culture is set aside for the adoption of a different one.

For some of these processes to take place, two or more cultures need to be in contact for an extended period. Each culture has a certain structure and certain “zones” where, due to their characteristics, fusion or assimilation develop more easily.

Typically, there is a dominant culture that imposes itself on the other using various mechanisms. Suppose that two bordering cities, belonging to different countries, are in permanent contact beyond the border that marks the separation of each nation. In one of them, with greater economic power, English is spoken; in the other, Spanish. In the city where Spanish is spoken, however, little by little English terms are beginning to be used due to the influence of the media and the products of the other. The inhabitants, on the other hand, adopt customs and traditions of their neighbors, abandoning their own. It can be said that in the Latin city, therefore, a process of deculturation is taking place.

Globalization is one of the phenomena that is considered to be betting the most on deculturation as well as on acculturation and enculturation. Precisely a clear example of this in relation to the first term that concerns us is that more and more in Spain and in South American countries a tradition such as the celebration of the Day of the Dead is being left aside.

Specifically, what is happening is that the younger generations do not celebrate it as they have been doing for many decades. Now what they do is commemorate that date with a party that has nothing to do with the custom of their respective countries. And it is that they choose to opt for Halloween, which simply leads them to dress up and go to an event to have a great time with food and drink.

However, these customs continue to be maintained thanks to the multitude of people who continue to honor their deceased by taking flowers to the cemetery and not dancing in a disco disguised as any horror character.

In addition to everything indicated, we cannot ignore the fact that, in most cases, deculturation occurs as a result of a ban or even an imposition.

Examples of this phenomenon that concern us are, as we have known throughout history, from substituting the language that was being used for another to completely modifying the ways of eating and even dressing.