What is Ethnocentrism?

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  2. January 7, 2013 6:23 pm

What is Ethnocentrism?

Ethnocentrism is an inappropriate yet natural tendency to view another culture’s behaviors, beliefs, and people from the perspective of one’s own culture. Many misunderstandings between cultures arise from ethnocentrism. An example of an ethnocentric point of view would be visiting a culture different from one’s own and witnessing something considered taboo, for instance eating insects, and judging that culture as odd or gross for dong so. The individual tends to be influenced by their own cultural values and so they might look upon insect eating as disgusting but the person eating the insect may find the meal an example of fine dining. An individual may also assume that what he or she finds valuable within their own culture is also valuable in a different culture. This form of ethnocentrism assumes that everyone is the same as the individual or at least should be. A more damaging result of ethnocentrism is colonialism. Historically many nations around the world have invaded or colonized other lands and enforced their own values and belief systems supported by the ethnocentric view that their ways are correct and the native population must accept them. Post modern theorists have offered new ways of thinking in order to avoid the tendency toward ethnocentrism. They suggest people attempt to view others from the native perspective. Rather than trying to interpret a cultural behavior or believe within the confines of one’s own culture, a person should try to discover how people of another culture think. By doing so more insight and understanding is revealed about how and why a culture acts a certain way. Ethnocentrism is a narrowed understanding of the world and can be a hindrance to understanding other cultures.


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