Ethnocentrism Essay

1053 Words May 4th, 2012 5 Pages
(Ethnocentrism vs. Cultural Relativism)

As a Sociologist, should we practice Cultural Ethnocentrism or Cultural Relativism?

We must first understand the two distinct theories regarding perception of outside cultures: Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism. Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one's own culture.[1] The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion - these ethnic distinctions and subdivisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity.[2] The logical alternative to ethnocentrism is Cultural relativism, the practice of judging a
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For example, a cultural relativist would say that the practices and beliefs of the Nazi cult are perfectly acceptable; e.g., killing of millions of Jews is “right” for them. Cultural relativism believes in the unquestioned acceptance of all cultural practices because there are no legitimate grounds for someone outside a culture to assess the wisdom or merits of that culture’s practices.

There are many cultural practices and beliefs present here in Belize that other Cultures may judge as morally wrong or deemed insane by society on a whole. The Mayas would be a perfect example to use simply because some of their practices and beliefs are extreme and epic. Let us look at one in detail; Maya prayer almost invariably accompanies acts of offering and sacrifice. Offerings serve to establish and renew relations ('contracts', 'pacts', or 'covenants') with the other world, and the choice, number, preparation, and arrangement of the offered item meet stringent requirements.[4] In the pre-Spanish past, sacrifice usually consisted of animals such as deer, dog, quail, turkey and fish, but on exceptional occasions (such as accession to the throne, severe illness of the ruler, royal burial, or drought and famine) also came to include human beings. [5] A characteristic feature of ancient Mayan ritual (though not exclusive to the Mayas) was the "bloodletting" sessions held by high officials and members of

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