Cultural Relativism In America

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Today, we are members of a society that is more connected than ever on a global scale. The internet and social media have given us access to the world, quite literally, at our fingertips with the means to communicate with people living entire continents away at any given moment. A consequence of this exposure is an increase in ethnocentrism, “the practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own culture” (Kendall 61). Citizens of the United States of America display a particularly strong representation of ethnocentrism, both positive and negative. On the other hand, the realization of our global citizenship encourages people to see others in context, viewing the world with cultural relativism, “the belief that the behaviors and customs of …show more content…
Trump and company frequently point out that we are all citizens of a global society, and should be working together for the benefit of the greater good rather than reaching the top at the expense of others. They would also point out that America, specifically, was built by people of many races, ethnicities, and religions who contributed to the creation of our current “melting pot” society. Additionally, immigrants of many origins have been demonized throughout history as second class citizens or even less: from the African slaves who were forced into working for whites until their emancipation, to European immigrants seeking better opportunities in the 19th century, to Latinos, and the most recent Syrian refugees seeking asylum from their war-ravaged homeland. Obviously, negative ethnocentrism is not a new phenomenon, and Americans are historically quick to find fault with a group which they deem inferior. All of these groups have brought with them pieces of their respective cultures which have been integrated successfully into American society; we may eat tacos or falafel for lunch at ethnic restaurants, attend an Italian opera, or enjoy a German-style beer in an Irish-themed pub. My family lives in a rural area with a substantial Amish population (whose ancestors emigrated from Germany), and we exchange goods and services with them despite our cultural and religious differences. If I enjoy a meal with my Catholic …show more content…
Certainly, it is natural and beneficial to take pride in one’s own culture and display ethnocentric symbols and behaviors, but there is a fine line that separates positive and negative ethnocentrism. Those who hold negative ethnocentric principles do not typically believe in cultural relativism, and do not consider other cultures based on what works for members of a particular group based on their preferred religion, locale or country of origin, or other factors which contribute to the purpose of cultural practices or traits. As part of a globally connected society, we have more access to information about and exposure to people of other cultures, and it is interesting to see the contrast between cultural relativists and extreme ethnocentrists, particularly in the United States of

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