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Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism: Analytical Essay

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Anthropology has five guiding principles but in this assignment, I am going to compare two guiding principles which are ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Before I proceed with my assignment I would like to first define these two terms in a simple and understandable way. Ethnocentrism is the strong belief that ones own culture is superior to all others, it is a way of thinking in which a person judges other cultures based on the idea and beliefs of his or her own culture. Oppositely cultural relativism is a theory that states that beliefs, customs, and morality exist in relation to the particular culture from which originate and are not absolute.

According to Eshetu (2017), Cultural relativism might be the way that a person's beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to their social background. This express the right or improper to an individual is tradition special and there may be not a standard evaluation to the morals and therefore no ideal to gauge assorted cultures. Heshe admits that cultural relativism is known as anthropologists’ understanding that all cultures have their legal rights and equality in worth and therefore each of the cultures are lawful for human survival. Ethnocentrism, however, performs by using a set of one’s traditions as the base for judging other people’s cultures. Whatever the sum of liberalism or open-mindedness, consumers will forever screen symptoms of ethnocentrism as a building block of other people’s cultures will affect in the urge to examine with their unique cultures.

The two points share a typical aim in that they take a look at the ideas by which individuals relate with people young and old from assorted cultural backgrounds by sending their behaviors among others. This essay analyses both of these principles with all the end goal to support out the one which is more aim. One of the most goal of cultural relativism and ethnocentrism

Eshetu (2017) carry on saying that Cultural relativism allows for folks to determine mixed behavior, traits and values as appropriate inside cultural values in the offered group. These concepts in many cases are a spinoff within the aimed sets of cultural and ethnic values and norms that differ from one cultural group to a different one. Below the cultural relativism idea, no society can certainly be named as good with the other considering the fact that all values, norms and traits are found inside their specified tradition that is definitely inappropriate in other cultures.

Cultural relativism should be to an extent could possibly take part with human lawful rights, can stop society from growing and fails to enable an individual to disclose a tradition is lesser to theirs. It’s constantly important to note that cultural relativism provides with regards to the concept that there’s no universal technique within the ethical values that guide the human carry out. Nevertheless, all society has it possesses a structure that guides its member’s ethical code but differs from a single tradition to a different by Tilley (2007). Heshe states that Cultural relativism serves as a cross-cultural basic principle that is definitely relevant throughout cultures and not strained inside of a person culture. During the occasion where exactly it happens to be not understood in such a context, it leads to ethicists envisaging an intra-cultural relativism and hence one society’s ethical requirements could possibly be denied.

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According to Booth (2014), an important search at ethnocentrism expose the way it is considered the opposite of cultural relativism in the followers of your philosophy compare other cultures to their very own cultures. In such cases, the follower is compelled to understand higher lifestyle as a lot more excellent when compared to the other cultures and hence it truly is dependent on a comparison in between the cultures. Ethnocentrism sees many different cultural points such as myths, folktales, and proverbs, as well as a language among most people. Regardless, unlike cultural relativism, ethnocentrism allows individuals to evacuate an additional lifestyle, do a comparison of cultures and conclude to a tradition that is definitely increased outstanding to another. Heshe also reveals that ethnocentrism could in fact be considered from three many different concentrations including a favorable, adverse and overwhelming stage. On a helpful level, ethnocentrism is viewed because the level of see by which one personal habit of daily life is a most appreciated in comparison with other people’s cultures which are the most typical feelings of individuals if they relate their cultures to some people.

At this degree, it presents folks a sense of people-hood, site in history and team identity. Destructive ethnocentrism appears about when one group is perceived given that the middle of almost everything and most of the people scaled to its reference. An intense case of negativity is led to whenever a group forces its rule on other folks foremost to vices that include apartheid, holocaust and genocide among the other folks. Booth (2017)

Examples of ethnocentrism in Africa

Tribalism, the apartheid Era in South Africa, Xenophobia, racism, and another example of ethnocentrism is colonialism. Colonialism can be defined as cultural domination with enforced social change. Colonialism refers to the social system in which the political defeat by one society of another leads to “cultural domination with enforced social change”. A good example to look at when examining colonialism is the British overtaking of India. The British had little understanding of the culture in India which created a lot of problems and unrest during their rule


The above information reveals that cultural relativism is often a favorable mindset in comparison with ethnocentrism which is negative. Besides that, cultural relativism motivates a sense of recognizing with many cultures and treating their uniqueness with respect and therefore no conditions of extremism would be dealt with. Ethnocentrism principally perceives other cultures as inferior to an individual’s society and hence encourages higher to offer a bit more total focus on the negative facets of the culture in relation to theirs.

Conclusion In such cases, cultural relativism is more aim as compared with ethnocentrism for it gives space with the people to perceive patterns, values, and morals within the context of higher cultural values also, the same transpires even as relating to other cultures. This is due to as observed, although it has its shortcomings, cultural relativism encourages peaceful existence concerning members of various groups for it eliminates situations of extremists and enmity among cultures. Therefore, it quickly builds pressure and conflict in a every society, whereas cultural relativism seeks to stop and stop to the opposite.


  1. Booth, K., 2014. Strategy and Ethnocentrism (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.
  2. Eshetu, Y., 2017. Understanding Cultural Relativism: A Critical Appraisal of the Theory. International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding, 4(6), pp.24-30.
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