What is ethnocentrism?

What Does ethnocentrism Mean

The ethnocentrism is a concept developed by anthropology to mention the tendency that leads a person or social group to interpret reality from their own cultural parameters . This practice is linked to the belief that one's ethnic group and its cultural practices are superior to the behaviors of other groups.

An ethnocentric vision judges and qualifies the customs, beliefs and language of other cultures according to a worldview considered desirable (which is always its own). The differences between one group and another constitute cultural identity .

Ethnocentrism is a tendency common to any human group. It is usual for elements of one's own culture to be qualified or commented on in positive terms , negatively describing the beliefs and customs of others. The practices of oneself are considered normal and even logical, unlike the exotic and little understandable behaviors of the other.
Anthropologists and other social scientists must strive not to fall into ethnocentrism when analyzing cultures that are alien to them . The researcher must constantly fight against the temptation to consider his own cultural structure as normal or superior in order to carry out objective work. Ethnocentrism also impedes learning (I cannot learn from something that I consider inferior or less valuable than what I already have).
Respect for one's identity does not imply having an ethnocentric view of the world: on the contrary, valuing cultural differences is a way of enhancing our own history.
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism
Since its origins, anthropology has fought to combat the ethnocentrism that weighs some cultures over others and generates great discrimination and disparity around the needs of peoples; where those who get the most benefits are the hegemonic groups.
Ethnocentrism is a cultural universal; Everywhere there are people who believe that their way of understanding life and customs is the correct one to the detriment of those groups that do not share them. In fact, they consider those different behaviors to be strange or wild .
There is also another concept known as cultural relativism , which is located at the opposite extreme to ethnocentrism. This current of thought affirms that no culture should be judged from the standards of another.
Like all extreme reasoning, cultural relativism can also be negative because it can be tolerant of behaviors that threaten the life or freedom of individuals who are part of a people. In other words, from this point of view, we should accept the prevailing ideas of Nazi Germany, just as we accept those that come from classical Greece.

It is important that anthropologists, from an objective, sensitive and above all, cross-cultural point of view, study a culture, but without ignoring those values ​​that have to do with justice and ethics , which should aim at the defense of individuality. of all people in any cultural field.
It could be said that within an ethnocentric position, the way to approach another culture would be from an authoritarian position that considers that everything that departs from one's own society is primitive, immature and even despicable. It is worth mentioning that these thoughts deny the process of hominization and the history of human diversity .
For its part, cultural relativism affirms that the characteristic features of a place should be analyzed only within the system that they belong to and that are as worthy of respect as those of any other.

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