Understanding the Concepts of Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

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Ethnocentrism is the principle of using our own culture as the standard by which we evaluate other groups or individuals. resulting in viewing other cultures as abnormal since they are different from our “perfect” culture, Ethnocentrism could be a major block that impedes us from understanding other cultures from ours, since we are technically judging other cultures, instead of understanding and living peacefully. An example of Ethnocentrism was in the past when people started coming to America. Americans never respected the Indian culture and tried to force them into their culture. They would make them speak English/Spanish (depends who was there conquering at the time), taught them religion, forced them into slavery, and forced them into many other things that eventually would lead to many deaths, etc.

This is a great example of Ethnocentrism because in the past Europeans thought that their culture was the standard that must be used. They viewed the Indian culture as abnormal and therefore called them Savages since they totally did not understand their culture. They believed they were mere Savages and treated them as objects since they believed it was correct since they did not worship their God, as well, Ethnocentrismjust impeded the Europeans from understanding the Indian culture, helping each other, and having peaceful agreements. Now, a way that this can be avoided, is by taking the mindset of Cultural Relativism.

Cultural Relativism is the principle of understanding other cultures on their own terms, rather than judging them according to an individual’s own culture This mindset or attitude is great for understanding other cultures and creating a peaceful environment. If the Europeans from the past would have had this mindset, then they would have respected the Indian culture, not have forced them into their own language and religion however, I wouldn’t be so sure about the slavery thing and such, since there were far more factors than Ethnocentrism that led the Europeans to doing many of their horrors on minorities but you could say that Cultural Relativism would have been something that would have helped more rather than damage.

However, it is important to note that while cultural relativism can help alleviate the negative impact of ethnocentrism, it may not have entirely prevented other atrocities committed by the Europeans. Slavery, for instance, was deeply rooted in economic motives and power dynamics rather than solely being a result of ethnocentrism. Nevertheless, adopting a mindset of cultural relativism would have undoubtedly encouraged a greater appreciation and respect for diverse cultures, fostering a more inclusive and tolerant society.

In conclusion, ethnocentrism serves as a barrier to understanding and appreciating other cultures, often leading to negative consequences. The historical mistreatment of Native American cultures by European colonizers exemplifies the detrimental effects of ethnocentrism. By adopting a perspective of cultural relativism, where we seek to understand and respect other cultures on their own terms, we can promote understanding, empathy, and peaceful coexistence. While it may not have completely eradicated all the injustices of the past, cultural relativism is a valuable mindset that can contribute to a more inclusive and harmonious world.


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Understanding the Concepts of Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism. (2023, Jun 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/understanding-the-concepts-of-ethnocentrism-and-cultural-relativism/

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