Contact between peoples with different cultures, usually leading to change in one or both systems. Forms of culture contact traditionally include acculturation, assimilation, and amalgamation. Acculturation is the process of change in material culture, traditional practices, and beliefs that occurs when one group interferes in the cultural system of another, directly or indirectly challenging the latter to adapt to the ways of the former. Such change has characterized most political conquests and expansions over the centuries. Assimilation is the process whereby individuals or groups of differing ethnicity are absorbed into the dominant culture of a society—though not always completely. In the U.S. millions of European immigrants became assimilated within two or three generations; factors included the upheaval of overseas relocation, the influences of the public school system, and other forces in American life. Amalgamation (or hybridization) occurs when a society becomes ethnically mixed in a way that represents a synthesis rather than the elimination or absorption of one group by another. In Mexico, for example, Spanish and Indian cultures became increasingly amalgamated over centuries of contact.
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A cultural area or culture area is a region (area) with one relatively homogeneous human activity or complex of activities (culture). These areas are primarily geographical, not historical (but see below), and they are not considered equivalent to Kulturkreis (Culture circles).
A culture area is a concept in cultural anthropology where a geographic region and time sequence (age area) is characterized by substantially uniform environment and culture. The concept of culture areas was originated by museum curators and ethnologists during the late 1800s as means of arranging exhibits. Clark Wissler and Alfred Kroeber further developed the concept on the premise that they represent long-standing cultural divisions.. The concept is criticized by some, who argue that the basis for classification is arbitrary. But other researchers disagree and the organization of human communities into cultural areas remains a common practice throughout the social sciences. The definition of culture areas is enjoying a resurgence of practical and theoretical interest as social scientists conduct more research on processes of cultural globalization.
However, he then adds that "the world-wide development of music must have been a unified process in which all peoples participated," and that one finds similar tunes and traits in puzzlingly isolated or separated locations throughout the world.