Ethnocentrism And Cultural Relativity Essay, Research Paper

It is ever troublesome non to understand another civilization, particularly, in New York City where we live in a society that is quickly altering. The City has progressively brought people of assorted civilizations, to interact closer with each other. This interaction can be either positive or negative depending on the degree of sensitiveness and regard people have for other civilization groups. These two types of behaviours are related to two of import constructs known as ethnocentrism and cultural relativity.

Ethnocentrism is? the attitude of bias or misgiving towards foreigners that may be within a group ( in-group ) in relation to other ( out-group ) ? ? . ( Harper-Collin Dictionary of Sociology ) . Importantly, there are besides three degrees of ethnocentrism: a positive 1, a negative one, and an utmost negative 1. The positive definition defines ethnocentrism as? the point of position that one? s ain manner of life is to be preferred to all others? ( Herskovits 1973: 21 ) . There is nil incorrect with such feelings, because? it characterizes the manner most persons feel about their ain civilizations, whether or non they verbalize their feelings? ( Herskovits 1973:21 ) . It is this point of position that gives people their sense of people-hood, group individuality, and topographic point in history. Ethnocentrism becomes negative when? one? s ain group becomes the centre of everything, and all other are scaled and rated with mention to it? ( Herskovits 1973:21 ) . It reaches utmost negative signifier when? a more powerful group non merely imposes its regulation on another, but actively depreciates the things they hold to be of value? ( Herskovits 1973:103 ) . This 3rd degree of ethnocentrism is found in illustrations of racial segregation, the holocaust, and race murder of a race of people.

Cultural relativism? asserts that constructs are socially constructed

and vary cross-culturally. These constructs may include such cardinal impressions as what is considered true, morally right, and what constitutes cognition or even reality itself? ? . ( Harper Collin Dictionary of Sociology ) . The construct of civilization, like any other piece of cognition, can be abused and misinterpreted. Some fear that the rules of cultural relativity will weaken morality. ? If the Bugabuga do it why can? t we? Its all comparative anyhow? ( Kluckhohn 1944:43 ) . But this is precisely what cultural relativity does non intend. Cultural relativity challenges our ordinary beliefs in the objectiveness and catholicity of moral truths. Different societies have different moral codifications. There is no nonsubjective criterion that can be used to judge one social codification better than another. The moral codification of our ain society has no particular position ; it is merely one among many.

It is merely clear that a negative attitude towards other civilization or groups arise out of ethnocentrism, while positive attitude is the consequence of a cultural relativist attack. One must ne’er experience that non understanding another civilization is debatable. It is ever a disadvantage to see civilization in an etic manner. To understand civilization one must digest and meet the civilization from the emic, the interior. It would be mere haughtiness for us to seek to judge the behavior of other civilizations. We should possibly maintain an unfastened head and a echt penetration that different civilizations do hold different moral codifications.

Work CitedHerkovits, Meville J. ? Cultural Relativism? : Positions in Cultural Pluralism. New York: Vintage Books, 1973.

Kluckhohn, Clyde. Mirror For Man. Greenwick, CT: Fawcett Books, 1944.

Harper Collins Dictionary of Sociology. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Rrlativism. World Wide Web: [ Documenting beginning on the Internet ] ( Cited March 24, 2001 ) { www.mta.ca/faculty/socsci/socanth/2001_htm }

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