Ethnocentrism And Cultural Relativism Essay

Ethnocentrism And Cultural Relativism Essay

Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are two contrasting terms that are displayed by different people all over the world. Simply put, ethnocentrism is defined as “judging other groups from the perspective of one’s own cultural point of view.” Cultural relativism, on the other hand, is defined as “the view that all beliefs are equally valid and that truth itself is relative, depending on the situation, environment, and individual.” Each of these ideas has found its way into the minds of people worldwide. The difficult part is attempting to understand why an individual portrays one or the other. It is a question that anthropologists have been asking themselves for years.

Ethnocentrism, as stated above, means the belief that one’s own culture is above and beyond all other cultures. Although this is somewhat of a shallow definition, it still provides an adequate explanation of a very complex issue. We see ethnocentrism every single day, in all aspects of life. The United States of America is a prime example of ethnocentrism is action. The people of this country have a tendency to disregard other cultures, instead believing that American culture is the only way to go. This is not to say that this is how everyone thinks, although most people, at one time or another, have had thoughts along these lines.

After the terrorist attack of 9/11, there was an immediate shift into almost hatred of any person of Arabic descent. Americans began to blame the entire Arabic population for...

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Cultural relativism is understanding other cultures and their beliefs. For example what seems normal to one culture may seem offensive to another. ex: like china eats dogs and in America keeps them as pets. Ethnocentrism is the belief that your country is the best and your culture is the best and your right and other cultures are wrong.

Cultural relativism and ethnocentrism are the two flip sides of one coin where both of these rather philosophical notions are intertwined. Ethnocentrism landed as a concept amongst different nations earlier than cultural relativism which got to be devised to counter ethnocentrism. And, the most significant feature related to these notions and ideas is the fact that both of these come with specific sect of followers which can be specific individuals and specific nations as well.

Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism is that notion that allows to see the different habits, traits and values of an individual in the relevance of his or her cultural values. All the nations come up with their specific sects of cultural and ethnic values and norms. And, all such cultural values differ from one ethnic group or nationality to the other. Cultural relativism grants that cushion where no culture gets to be termed as superior or inferior one. All the values, norms and traits get to be seen in the cultural relevance where it being understood that one value appropriate for one specific culture can be inappropriate for the other. So, this very notion does not propagate becoming judgmental or harsh towards any specific cultural value and norms.


Ethnocentrism on the other hand is the extreme opposite of cultural relativism. The follower of this philosophy will happen not only to consider his or her culture the most supreme of all but that person will judge other cultures by comparing these to his or her specific culture. This notion falls in deep and sharp contrast to cultural relativism which focuses on the better and unbiased understanding of other cultures and the related values.

Cultural relativism is considered to be more constructive and positive conception as compared to ethnocentrism. It permits to see an individual’s habits, values and morals in the context of his or her cultural relevance not by comparing it to one’s own cultural values and by deeming these the most superior and greater of all.


1.Cultural relativism is the positive attitude or concept while ethnocentrism is the negative side.
2.Cultural relativism is showing a sense of understanding for different cultures and treating the uniqueness of these cultures with utmost respect.
3.Ethnocentrism is the belief that your culture is right or the best.


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