Anthropology:Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism

Topics: Culture, Cultural anthropology, Anthropology Pages: 3 (1003 words) Published: February 25, 2014
Dr.Iveta Pirgova
Exam 1

Anthropologist use unique perspectives in order to judge a specific culture, and approach the studies of cultures using Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism. The definition of these terms is very different in many ways when describing cultures. Cultural Relativism is defined as the perspective that any aspect of a culture must be viewed and evaluated within the context of that culture. While, ethnocentrism, is defined as making value judgments based on one’s own culture when describing aspects of another culture. Cultural relativism is much more commonly used by anthropologist due to the simple fact maintaining respect and avoiding ignorance to ones culture custom, cultural trait, belief, activities, or any other values and traditions of a culture. As for ethnocentrism, it is the opposite of cultural relativism. Ethnocentrism makes value judgments from their native culture, towards another ones culture in order to judge their elements such as custom, trait, belief, activities and any other value or traditions. This can cause much room for decreasing the values of one’s culture. Judgments like “weird, strange, unethical and backward” are commonly made from using ethnocentrism. In Islam, females are required that they wear proper, decent, modest, and clean clothes and are instructed by Allah in the Quran to wear as a minimum Hijab, or head covering. When an Islamic woman is home however, she may free her beauty in front of immediate family such as her husband, children, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and other males. An example of cultural relativism perspective would have a statement like such: “Islamic women cover their beauty with a clean, modest Hijab when in public.” This statement takes a step into the culture for the judgment, and that’s why it is Cultural relativism. An example of ethnocentrism would have a statement like such: “Islamic offensive tradition forces women to cover their face in a Hijab in public.”...

Cited: Lenkeit, Roberta Edwards. Introducing cultural anthropology. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield, 2001. Print.
"New Jersey - Ethnic groups." New Jersey - Ethnic groups. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. .
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