Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

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  • Topic: Cultural relativism, Anthropology, Culture
  • Pages : 3 (666 words )
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  • Published : October 9, 2011
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Please define and compare and contrast ETHNOCENTRISM and CULTURAL RELATIVISM. Discuss how you have experienced OR witnessed both concepts in our American Society.

Ethnocentrism is viewing your own culture as more superior than any other culture, that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own. Ethnocentrism can lead to cultural misinterpretation and it often distorts communication between human beings.

+ while cultural relativism is "the concept that the importance of a particular cultural idea varies from one society or societal subgroup to another, the view that ethical and moral standards are relative to what a particular society or culture believes to be good/bad, right/wrong." (

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity's unique cultural identity.[

Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human's beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual's own culture. This principle was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by his students. Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: "...civilization is not something absolute, but ... is relative, and ... our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes."[1] but did not actually coin the term "cultural relativism." The first use of the term recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary

Ethnocentrism leads us to make false assumptions about cultural differences. We are ethnocentric when we use our cultural norms to make generalizations about...
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