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1.5: Ethnocentrism

Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - “Colonization of New England” – Early settlers cut and saw trees and use the lumber to construct a building, possibly a warehouse for their supplies. This is the first scene painted entirely by Costaggini.

Ethnocentrism is the term anthropologists use to describe the opinion that one’s own way of life is natural or correct. Some would simply call it cultural ignorance. Ethnocentrism means that one may see his/her own culture as the correct way of living. For those who have not experienced other cultures in depth can be said to be ethnocentric if they feel that their lives are the most natural way of living. Some cultures may be similar or overlap in ideas or concepts, however, some people are in a sense, shocked to experience differences they may encounter with individuals culturally different than themselves. In extreme cases, a group of individuals may see another cultures way of life and consider it wrong, because of this, the group may try to convert the other group to their own ways of living. Fearful war and genocide could be the devastating result if a group is unwilling to change their ways of living.

An example of ethnocentrism in culture is the Asian cultures across all the countries of Asia. Throughout Asia, the way of eating is to use chopsticks with every meal. These people may find it unnecessary to find that people in other societies, such as the American society, eat using forks, spoons, knives, etc. Since these countries use chopsticks to eat every meal, they find it foolish for other cultures to not use utensils similar to chopsticks; however, they do accept the fact that they use different utensils for eating. This example is not something extreme that could lead to genocide or war, but it is a large enough gap between these cultures for people to see their way of eating as the natural or best way to typically eat their food.

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 conquests 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 overtake of India. The British had little understanding of the culture in India which created a lot of problems and unrest during their rule.[10]

Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\) - “Statue of Gandhi” – Gandhi was an important figure in the struggle to end the period of British colonial rule in India, he fought for peace and understanding during this time of unrest.

Ethnocentrism may not, in some circumstances, be avoidable. We all often have instinctual reactions toward another person or culture’s practices or beliefs. But these reactions do not have to result in horrible events such as genocide or war. In order to avoid such awful things like those we must all try to be more culturally relative. Ethnocentrism is one solution to tension between one cultural self and another cultural self. It helps reduce the other way of life to a version of one’s own.

References

  1. “African People & Culture – Ashanti”.
  2. “Japanese Hip Hop and the Globalization of Popular Culture” Ian Condry
  3. Southern California Quarterly “Cinco de Mayo’s First Seventy-Five Years in Alta California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862 to 1937” Spring 2007 (see American observation of Cinco de Mayo started in California) accessed Oct 30, 2007
  4. “Health and Human Rights”, World Health Organization http://www.who.int/hhr/HHRETH_activities.pdf (pdf) Accessed June 2009
  5. “Discussion Group 10 Week 2- Marisa Mikelsons”
  6. Condry, Ian, 2001 “Japanese Hip-Hop and the Globalization of Popular Culture.” In Urban Life: Readings in the Anthropology of the City. George Gmelch and Walter Zenner, eds. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
  7. Democracy in Dakar, Nomadic Wax, 2008
  8. http://courses.wwu.edu/webapps/porta...82_1&frame=top
  9. Barton Wright Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa040.shtml
  10. Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009.pg.79.
  11. Philosophy Home, 2009. http://www.cultural-relativism.com/
  12. Zmago Šmitek and Božidar Jezernik, “The anthropological tradition in Slovenia.” In: Han F. Vermeulen and Arturo Alvarez Roldán, eds. Fieldwork and Footnotes: Studies in the History of European Anthropology. 1995.
  13. American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”(May 17, 1998) http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm
  14. Peter L. Berger, Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective, Anchor, 1963, ISBN 0385065299
  15. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford University Press, 1961, ISBN 0195133730
  16. Louisa Lim, Painful Memories for China’s Footbinding Survivors http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=8966942
  17. James A. Crites Chinese Foot Binding, http://www.angelfire.com/ca/beekeeper/foot.html
  18. http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/cu...relativism.htm
  19. Justin Marozzi, The son of the Father of History, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/b...f-History.html
  20. Introduction to The Journey of Friar John of Pian de Carpine to the Court of Kuyuk Khan, 1245-1247, as translated by William Woodville Rockhill, 1900,http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad...s/carpini.html
  21. Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology A Perspective on the Human Condition. 7th ed. New York: Oxford UP.
  22. “RACE – The Power of an Illusion . What Is Race |.” PBS. 08 Mar. 2009 <http://www.pbs.org/race/001_WhatIsRa...01_00-home.htm>.
  23. Miller, Barabra. Cultural Anthropology. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.
  24. Lorber, Judith. “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A text and Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 617-30.
  25. Bourgois, Philippe. “Workaday World, Crack Economy.” The Nation (1995): 706-11.

EXTERNAL LINKS

  • What is Anthropology? – Information from the American Anthropological Association
  • SLA– Society for Linguistic Anthropology
  1. ^ Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009.pg.79.
  2. ^ Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009. pgs. 332-333