Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity

It is often troublesome not to recognize one more culture, specifically, in New York City exactly where we reside in a society that is rapidly altering. The City has increasingly brought people of various cultures, to interact closer with each and every other. This interaction can be either constructive or damaging based on the level of sensitivity and respect folks have for other culture groups. These two types of behaviors are related to two significant concepts identified as ethnocentrism and cultural relativity.

Ethnocentrism is “the attitude of prejudice or mistrust towards outsiders that could exist inside a group (in-group) in relation to other (out-group)”…. (Harper-Collin Dictionary of Sociology). Importantly, there are also three levels of ethnocentrism: a positive one, a unfavorable 1, and an intense unfavorable one particular. The positive definition defines ethnocentrism as “the point of view that one’s personal way of life is to be preferred to all others” (Herskovits 1973: 21). There is nothing at all wrong with such feelings, mainly because “it characterizes the way most people feel about their own cultures, whether or not or not they verbalize their feelings” (Herskovits 1973:21). It is this point of view that gives people their sense of folks-hood, group identity, and place in history. Ethnocentrism becomes negative when “ one’s personal group becomes the center of everything, and all other are scaled and rated with reference to it”(Herskovits 1973:21). It reaches extreme damaging kind when “a far more powerful group not only imposes its rule on an additional, but actively depreciates the points they hold to be of value” (Herskovits 1973:103). This third level of ethnocentrism is found in examples of racial segregation, the holocaust, and genocide of a race of individuals.

Cultural relativism “asserts that ideas are socially constructed and differ cross-culturally. These concepts may perhaps incorporate such fundamental notions as what is thought of true, morally right, and what constitutes expertise or even reality itself”…. (Harper Collin Dictionary of Sociology). The idea of culture, like any other piece of information, can be abused and misinterpreted. Some fear that the principles of cultural relativity will weaken morality. “If the Bugabuga do it why can not we? Its all relative anyway” (Kluckhohn 1944:43). But this is specifically what cultural relativity does not mean. Cultural relativity challenges our ordinary beliefs in the objectivity and universality of moral truths. Diverse societies have unique moral codes. There is no objective typical that can be applied to judge 1 societal code improved than yet another. The moral code of our…

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