Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Assimilation


Appropriation? Assimilation? Appreciation? What is all this?

Why can they do it but we can’t? Isn’t the same thing? Isn’t this just double standards?

All these questions float around when the topic of cultural appropriation comes about usually in the comments. However are three main terms that many people often get confused with when discussing cultural appropriation. One may start commenting on cultural appropriation when actually what it really is is appreciation or assimilation. So here we are to help clear everything up and help you understand where your argument stands!

First off cultural appropriation what is it?
When elements of a minority culture are taken by members of a more dominant culture for their own use. This results in the original context to become distorted and it’s meaning reduced. Those taking elements of the culture do not experience the same cultural significance.

and what about cultural assimilation?
This is the process by which elements of a dominant culture are take by members of a minority culture this often occurs when a minority enters into a dominate culture and assimilates in order to survive.

The difference between the two terms answers the commonly repeated questions about cultural appropriation of ‘Well if they do it why can’t I?” or “Isn’t this double standards?”

Unfortunately in this society not all cultures are perceived as equal. That’s the truth. Minorities take on aspects of dominate cultures to survive or be accepted (or even to hopefully perceived as equals). Where as cultural appropriation sees dominate cultures taking on elements of a minority often for the sake of being ‘trendy’, ‘fashionable’ etc

And then recently we’ve been seeing cultural appreciation
What is this? Well from what we gathered it is when people take the time to learn, educated and understand a culture before taking an educated decision to express the culture in way that does not offend ands till respect it.

However to speak for a whole culture is incredibly hard and there will be inevitable be people who will be offended. So when attempting to do cultural appreciation tread lightly and be aware.

We hope this has helped you out in learning more about cultural appropriation!

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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Definition by Young, J 2010, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts.
Definitions by Encyclopaedia Britannia (x)


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Cultural appropriation affects all, share with us why your culture matters to you and why we should appreciate and respect it.

With Halloween approaching we asked why culture shouldn’t be a costume. One of our follows shared with us their personal opinion about their culture.

I take a lot of pride in my native heritage. And every Halloween I see cultural appropriation everywhere when people ” dress up ” like native Americans. I feel like first of all they stole a nation and now they think it’s ok to try and be native for a night. My culture ( and any culture for that matter ) is not a costume.

dvmien.j (@dvmien.j)

‘Stop the Cult’ helps to educate people about cultural appropriation and why it matters. Share your opinions and experience of culture/cultural appropriation with the tag #stopthecult

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation @ Stop The Cult
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What if I do Culturally Appropriate?

Sometimes the answer to this question,
just don’t do it in the first place’ isn’t always the most helpful. Cultural appropriation can often occur unknowingly or accidentally. So here we are to help!

Well what do I do if I do culturally approriate?

First things first, STOP (obviously).
There does need much reasoning behind this, cultural appropriation disrespects and alters the original meaning of the culture and the best way to not do this is to stop.

Recognising that you’ve culturally appropriated an aspect of someones culture is great (you’re learning and identifying) but even better is to recognise those faults and apologise. And we applaud you in doing so and leading the way for others!

Thirdly, EDUCATE.
Its great to stop, recognise & apologise but there is no harm in educating yourself. If aspects of cultures truly appeal to you only for aesthetic reasons (bindi, henna, cornrows etc) I encourage you to find out why these are so important culturally and the history behind it because its far more interesting. Not only that educating yourself means you can educate others on not why we should participate in cultural appropriation!

Enriching your knowledge will further your appreciation and perhaps instead of cultural appropriation you’ll be invited to culture exchange and truly experience these traditions with respect and permission. We need to understand that cultural appropriation isn’t always intentional. Educating others is one step closer to stopping cultural appropriation.

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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What the hell is Cultural Appropriation?

The term gets thrown around by the media, internet, celebrities but what the hell is cultural appropriation exactly?

There are varying definitions of cultural appropriation floating around on the internet and what it can be applied to, so for many of us we’re just bloody confused to as what it is exactly.

In the simplest terms possible (and in no way trying to reduce the seriousness of this issue):

Cultural appropriation is when elements of a minority culture are taken by members of a more dominant culture for their own use.

This results in the original context to become distorted and it’s meaning reduced. Those taking elements of the culture do not experience the same cultural significance.

Often this can be seen as disrespectful and offensive. Culture is important to all people all around the world, as people we should respect that.

Hopefully this has explained what cultural appropriation is exactly, follow us to keep informed and inform others. And continue to find out why cultural appropriation need to be stopped.

R.C.W – Stopping Cultural Appropriation

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Definition provided by Young, J 2010, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts.