Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity

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Molly Moore
Professor Hadjicostandi
Sociology 1301
16 June 2012
There are two systems used to compare cultures in sociology: ethnocentrism; the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture (Macionis), and cultural relativism; the practice of judging a culture by its own standards (Macionis). Since we are raised in our own culture, it is easiest to use ethnocentrism, because it comes natural to judge by our own standards. From studying “Body Rituals Among The Nacirema”, it is obvious that the Nacirema people have unusual and extreme customs. Using charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live (Miller), the Nacirema go to extremes to achieve the perfect outer appearance. In my home town, it is normal for pregnant women to be proud of their baby bumps, but in Nacirema society, it is frowned upon, and women dress so as to hide their condition (Miller). Looking at the two cultures in from a cultural relativism point of view, it is easy to see that the two cultures are actually the same thing, surprisingly enough; Nacirema is just American spelled backwards. When compared to each other it is easy to see all of the similarities. In Nacirema, there are ritual fasts to make fat people thin (Miller), known as dieting where I’m from. Also in Nacimera, there is a holy-mouth-man, who has an impressive set of paraphernalia, consisting of a variety of augers, awls, probes, and prods (Miller), which is a dentist in my home town.

Works Cited
Macionis, J. J. (2009 ). Society: the basics. Pearson/Prentice Hall. Miller, H. (n.d.). Body Rituals Among The Nacirema. Retrieved June 16, 2012, from Body Rituals Among The Nacirema: http://www.ohio.edu/people/thompsoc/Body.html
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