Meaning of Ethnocentrism
What is Ethnocentrism:
Ethnocentrism is called the tendency to consider one's own culture as the only valid criterion to interpret or value the behaviors, customs, traditions or values of other groups, ethnic groups or societies.
The word, as such, is formed from the roots ethno-, which means 'people'; center, in reference to the place that the individual considers that his culture occupies, and -ism, which indicates 'trend' or 'attitude'.
It is an attitude that consists, fundamentally, that a group, society or culture considers itself superior in its way of life to other groups, societies or cultures, and, by virtue of this, rejects, excludes and marginalizes anyone who does not be part of it.
In ethnocentrism, one's own culture acquires a central place from which other groups are evaluated, although always valuing their own, their particularities and achievements more positively than those who are different from them.
However, ethnocentrism, as a social phenomenon, also has its reasons: it implies the distinction between belonging or not to one's own group, it maintains social cohesion (loyalty, cooperation, solidarity and mutual defense) and the culture of the cultural group. In this sense, every social and cultural group is, in one way or another, ethnocentric.
Hence, ethnocentrism can and does manifest itself in any group of individuals. Some notable examples of this are European ethnocentrism, for example, it is called Eurocentrism; the African, Afrocentrism; Chinese, sinocentrism, etc.
However, ethnocentrism also fosters values that, when radicalized, can become negative and even violent, such as discrimination, xenophobia, racism or nationalism.
See also Discrimination.
Examples of ethnocentrism are found when Europeans consider, still in the 21st century, that the history of America and the relevant cultural events that occurred on this continent only began with their arrival.
Another example of ethnocentrism in popular culture is the cinema produced in Hollywood, in which films usually start from ethnocentric cultural precepts, even when their plots take place far from the borders of the United States.
One more example of the extremes to which ethnocentrism can take would be the apartheid, a social system from which social rights, today considered essential, were segregated and denied to most of the population by a white minority that held political and economic power.
See also Apartheid.
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are different ways of dealing with cultural differences between groups, societies, and cultures.
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to consider one's own culture, its values, principles and other peculiarities, as the exclusive criterion for valuing other cultures.
Cultural relativism, on the other hand, addresses cultural differences from a more rational perspective, seeking to understand and explain these differences, since it understands that values are nothing but social conventions that can vary from culture to culture.