Author of the Article: Milton J. Bennett
Date of the Article:
Subject or Class for which you read the Article: Organisational Behaviour
Week #: Session 5: Culture
Author of summary:
Date of Summary: 17/01/2013
Towards Ethnorelativism: A Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity.
High Level Summary:
Organized into six “stages” of increasing sensitivity to difference, the article identifies the underlying cognitive orientations individuals use to understand cultural difference. Each position along the continuum represents increasingly complex perceptual organizations of cultural difference, which in turn allow increasingly sophisticated experiences of other cultures. By identifying the underlying experience of cultural difference, predictions about behavior and attitudes can be made and education can be tailored to facilitate development along the continuum.
Summary of the article:
Ethnocentrism is, according to Bennett, “the assumption that one’s own culture is central to all reality”. To move “away” from this, he suggests three “Ethnocentric pitfalls” to overcome (Denial, Defence, and Minimisation) and then three “Ethnorelative approaches” (Acceptance, Adaptation, and Integration) to achieve this:
A denial of difference is the purest form of ethnocentrism. Even in the face of seemingly obvious differences in human behaviour associated with world affairs or domestic multicultural issues, a person at this stage of development believes that cultural diversity only occurs elsewhere. While this form of ethnocentrism might seem rare in an intercommunicating world, the appearance of this position can be maintained through isolation or separation caused by intentional physical and social barriers.
Physical isolation can foster the denial of the existence of difference. From a position of