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Cultural Relativism
Mark Glazer|
Cultural relativism in anthropology is a key methodological concept which is universally accepted within the discipline. This concept is based on theoretical considerations which are key to the understanding of "scientific" anthropology as they are key to the understanding of the anthropological frame of mind. Cultural relativism is an anthropological approach which posit that all cultures are of equal value and need to be studied from a neutral point of view. The study of a and/or any culture has to be done with a cold and neutral eye so that a particular culture can be understood at its own merits and not another culture’s. Historically, cultural relativism has had a twin theoretical approach, historical particularism. This is the notion that the proper way to study culture is to study one culture in depth. The implications of cultural relativism and historical particularism have been significant to anthropology and to the social sciences in general. The roots of cultural relativism go to the rejection of the comparative school of the nineteenth century on the basis of exact and specific ethnological information. This information rejected the comparative school’s methodology and as a result its evolutionary conclusions. Furthermore, as the basis of cultural relativism is a scientific view of culture, it also rejects value judgments on cultures. There is, in this view, no single scale of values which holds true for all cultures and by which all culture can be judged. Beliefs, aesthetics, morals and other cultural items can only be judged through their relevance to a given culture. For example, good and bad in are culture specific and can not be imposed in cultural analysis. The reason for this view is, of course, that what is good in one culture may not be bad in an other. This indicates that every culture determines its own ethical judgments to regulate the proper behavior of its members. A result of this view is that it...
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