Ethnocentrism: Culture and Social Integration

Topics: Culture, Cultural relativism, Relativism Pages: 2 (727 words) Published: November 15, 2008

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture. Ethnocentrism often bring about the belief that one's own race or ethnic group is the most important and/or are superior to those of other groups. Ethnocentrism can have both a positive and negative effect in one’s personal life. “On the positive side, it creates in-group loyalties. On the negative side, ethnocentrism can lead to discrimination against people whose ways differ from ours”(Henslin 2006:33).

The positive definition defines ethnocentrism as “the point of view that one’s own way of life is to be preferred to all others” (Herskovits 1973: 21). There is nothing wrong with such feelings, because “it characterizes the way most individuals feel about their own cultures, whether or not they verbalize their feelings” (Herskovits 1973:21). It is this point of view that gives people their sense of people-hood, group identity, and place in history. Another positive thing birthed from ethnocentrism is patriotism. While extreme nationalism can lead to wars, having a sense of pride in one's country is always good for the society. Since Americans think they have the best culture, they tend to strut it around. With strutting around also comes a better lifestyle. Even though Americans do not have the best way of living, the belief of being the best has lead us to living a comfortable lifestyle. Being a little bit ethnocentric develops a strong unity in different people groups. It also helps social integration among groups. Social integration is a positive action according to Emile Durkheim. Durkheim even called social integration the "protection from suicide". So in a sense, ethnocentrism can be considered as a protection from suicide.

Ethnocentrism can lead to a group thinking they are self-righteous and better than another group. It also gives lead way to judge another culture's way of life. Ethnocentrism is wrong for obvious reasons; it...
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