Ask Difference

Assimilation vs. Socialization — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 9, 2024
Assimilation involves integrating into a new culture by adopting its customs and attitudes, while socialization refers to the general process of learning social norms and behaviors to function in society.
Assimilation vs. Socialization — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Assimilation and Socialization


Key Differences

Assimilation is the process by which individuals or groups adopt the customs and attitudes of another culture, often involving a loss of some aspects of their original identity. Whereas, socialization is a broader concept that encompasses the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, values, and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society.
Assimilation can occur as a result of migration, where migrants gradually adopt the cultural norms of the host country to fit in better. On the other hand, socialization begins from a very young age at home and continues through institutions like schools and media, shaping individuals' perspectives and behaviors throughout their life.
In assimilation, the emphasis is often on conformity and uniformity, as the assimilating group or individual modifies their behaviors and beliefs to align more closely with those of the dominant group. Conversely, socialization includes the development of both conformity and individuality, teaching the norms of the society while also allowing room for personal expression and development.
Assimilation may lead to significant changes in one's cultural identity, sometimes to the extent of reducing the visibility of one's original culture. In contrast, socialization aims to maintain and enhance the cultural norms and values of the society, ensuring continuity and cohesion within the community.
While assimilation is specifically concerned with the integration into a new or dominant culture, often observed in multicultural societies, socialization is a universal aspect of all human societies, crucial for the continuation of cultural knowledge and practices.

Comparison Chart


Adoption of a new culture's customs and attitudes
Learning and adopting societal norms and behaviors


To integrate into a different culture, often for smoother social interactions
To prepare individuals to function effectively in their society


Can involve significant cultural or identity change
Involves acquiring a broad range of societal norms and roles


Often occurs in settings with cultural diversity and migration
Occurs universally in all communities and cultures


Conformity to a new cultural norm, potential loss of original cultural identity
Development of a well-rounded individual capable of contributing to their society

Compare with Definitions


The loss of cultural identity as one group assimilates into another.
Assimilation sometimes leads to the diminishing of one's native cultural practices.


The process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.
Socialization in early childhood involves learning basic manners and rules.


Absorption into the cultural tradition of a population or group.
The family's rapid assimilation in the new country was facilitated by their children's school environment.


Occurs throughout an individual's life, adapting to changing norms and environments.
Teenage socialization often revolves around school activities and peer relationships.


Often involves blending or conforming to a dominant cultural group.
Assimilation policies in history often aimed to blend minority groups into the dominant culture.


Crucial for the functioning of society by transmitting culture across generations.
Family, schools, and media play key roles in the socialization process.


The process by which a person or a group's language and/or culture come to resemble those of another group.
The assimilation of immigrants into the mainstream society can often be observed in language usage and dress.


Involves internalizing the societal norms and values.
Through socialization, individuals learn the core values of respect, honesty, and responsibility.


Can be voluntary or forced, depending on the context.
Historical examples of forced assimilation include various governmental policies directed at indigenous peoples.


Supports both social continuity and individual development.
Proper socialization helps maintain societal order and supports individual growth.


The process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas
The assimilation of the knowledge of the Greeks


In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained".Socialization is strongly connected to developmental psychology.


The absorption and digestion of food or nutrients by the body or any biological system
Nitrate assimilation usually takes place in leaves


To place under government or group ownership or control
Socialized medical care.


The process of becoming similar to something
Watson was ready to work for the assimilation of Scots law to English law where he thought it was justified


To cause to accept or behave in accordance with social norms or expectations
Techniques to socialize aggressive children.


The act or process of assimilating.


To take part in social activities
Likes to socialize with people her age.


The state of being assimilated.


The process of learning how to live in a way acceptable to one's own society, said especially about children.
Socialization skills are important things to learn in kindergarten.


(Physiology) The conversion of nutriments into living tissue; constructive metabolism.


The act of interacting with others, of being social.
Forced socialization rarely creates strong friendships, but there are exceptions.


(Linguistics) The process by which a sound is modified so that it becomes similar or identical to an adjacent or nearby sound. For example, the prefix in- becomes im- in impossible by assimilation to the labial p of possible.


Taking under government control as implementing socialism.


The process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture.


The action of establishing on a socialist basis;
The socialization of medical services


The act of assimilating or the state of being assimilated.


The act of meeting for social purposes;
There was too much socialization with the enlisted men


The metabolic conversion of nutrients into tissue.


The adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture;
The socialization of children to the norms of their culture


(by extension) The absorption of new ideas into an existing cognitive structure.


(phonology) A sound change process by which the phonetics of a speech segment becomes more like that of another segment in a word (or at a word boundary), so that a change of phoneme occurs.


The adoption, by a minority group, of the customs and attitudes of the dominant culture.


The act or process of assimilating or bringing to a resemblance, likeness, or identity; also, the state of being so assimilated; as, the assimilation of one sound to another.
To aspire to an assimilation with God.
The assimilation of gases and vapors.


The conversion of nutriment into the fluid or solid substance of the body, by the processes of digestion and absorption, whether in plants or animals.
Not conversing the body, not repairing it by assimilation, but preserving it by ventilation.


The state of being assimilated; people of different backgrounds come to see themselves as part of a larger national family


The social process of absorbing one cultural group into harmony with another


The process of absorbing nutrients into the body after digestion


A linguistic process by which a sound becomes similar to an adjacent sound


The process of assimilating new ideas into an existing cognitive structure


In the theories of Jean Piaget: the application of a general schema to a particular instance

Common Curiosities

Can assimilation occur without socialization?

Assimilation generally involves some form of socialization to the new culture, although it's more focused on specific cultural absorption than general social learning.

What is the difference between assimilation and socialization?

Assimilation specifically refers to adapting to a new cultural environment, often losing some original cultural traits, whereas socialization is the broader lifelong process of acquiring societal norms.

Why is assimilation sometimes viewed negatively?

Assimilation can be seen negatively when it involves the loss of one's original culture or is forced, leading to potential identity crises.

How do educational institutions contribute to assimilation and socialization?

Schools contribute to both by teaching the dominant culture’s values and norms (assimilation) and by helping students learn to function within society (socialization).

Is socialization only important during childhood?

While socialization starts in childhood, it continues throughout an individual's life as they encounter different roles and environments.

What are the positive aspects of assimilation?

Assimilation can promote unity and smoother interactions within a diverse society, easing communication and understanding across different groups.

What role does socialization play in a multicultural society?

Socialization helps individuals navigate and respect diverse cultural landscapes, ensuring societal cohesion despite differences.

How does one balance between assimilation and maintaining original cultural identity?

Balancing assimilation with cultural identity involves embracing new cultural practices while retaining core aspects of one's original culture.

What is the impact of digital media on socialization?

Digital media expands the scope and speed of socialization, influencing norms and behaviors across global communities.

Can socialization affect assimilation?

Effective socialization in a new culture can facilitate smoother and more respectful assimilation.

What are the societal benefits of effective socialization?

Effective socialization fosters a well-ordered society with individuals who are well-prepared to contribute positively.

Are there mechanisms in society that resist assimilation?

Yes, cultural retention practices, community support groups, and policies promoting multiculturalism can resist the pressures of assimilation.

How do individual experiences of assimilation differ?

Individual experiences vary based on factors like age, education, and the receptiveness of the host culture.

How can societies foster healthy assimilation?

Societies can foster healthy assimilation by promoting inclusivity, supporting multiculturalism, and offering resources to new members to maintain aspects of their original cultures while integrating.

How do immigrants typically experience assimilation and socialization in a new country?

Immigrants often undergo both processes, adapting to the new cultural environment while also learning to function within its societal framework.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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