Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism Essay example

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Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are two contrasting terms that are displayed by different people all over the world. Simply put, ethnocentrism is defined as “judging other groups from the perspective of one’s own cultural point of view.” Cultural relativism, on the other hand, is defined as “the view that all beliefs are equally valid and that truth itself is relative, depending on the situation, environment, and individual.” Each of these ideas has found its way into the minds of people worldwide. The difficult part is attempting to understand why an individual portrays one or the other. It is a question that anthropologists have been asking themselves for years.
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From then on, however, anything involving Arabic culture was deemed that of “terrorists.”

This process does work both ways, however. Citizens of other nations have long made it clear that they believe Americans are nothing but greedy, power-hungry people. I have known several people that visited France, for example, and were treated as though they did not belong because they were Americans.

Cultural relativism means the exact opposite of ethnocentrism. It can be summed up as believing that “all religious, ethical, aesthetic, and political beliefs are completely relative to the individual within a cultural identity” (www.cultural-relativism.com). This means that there is no definite “right” or “wrong”, but rather an ever-changing set of values for each separate culture.

I have not personally witnessed cultural relativism, however I do know that it very well exists. An example of this idea is in something such as equality in the workplace for both men and women. A person following the cultural relativist perspective would say that it is wrong to deny women that equality in the workplace in America today. The cultural relativist would also say, however, that there is a culture where it is acceptable to limit certain areas of freedom from women.

These two intricate issues will continue to be a part of every society until the end of time. One can only hope to attempt to give a better understanding of the
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