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Difference Between Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism

Cultural Relativism vs Ethnocentrism

From the dawn of the nineteenth century up to present time, the world evolved quickly and was endowed with lots of different cultures. The disparity between these cultures created certain links that brought each closer to one another. In this connection, the uniqueness of one culture as compared to another helps determine the type of interaction made between two or more dissimilar cultures. Depending on the level of respect and sensitivity that one cultural group has to another, the interaction is either good (the relativistic view) or bad (the ethnocentric view).

Cultural relativism seems to be the other side of ethnocentrism. If the former is the brighter end, the latter is considered to be its dark side. By definition, “cultural relativism” is “the concept of understanding different cultures and respecting their own beliefs.” Normally, it is to be expected that a certain type of practice is culturally acceptable in one group while being considered a cultural deviation in your group. So if you are a cultural relativist, you will try your best to understand their “odd” practice. If another culture recognizes obese people as beautiful, then you must regard these people as beautiful, most especially if you are with them or if you are currently staying with them.
On the other hand, “ethnocentrism,” being the opposite end, means that your culture is the ideal, and that no other culture is more acceptable and right than your culture. It is the perception that if another group is doing a practice that seems to be contrary to your cultural norms, you then regard that practice immediately to be wrong. This concept is considered racist and often offensive and discriminatory because you shouldn’t judge other cultures by using your own culture as the standard. Just because a person is doing an activity that is not acceptable in your culture does not give you the right to regard it as abnormal. In the first place, nobody officially claimed that your culture is normal or the standard to be followed. The Holocaust is a clear example of one race being ethnocentric to others.
As a final thought, the cause of concern today is the fact that the ethnocentric attitude is still present in many individuals. They shouldn’t be ethnocentric because this bars them from associating or relating with people belonging from other more diverse cultural roots.


1.Cultural relativism is the positive attitude or concept while ethnocentrism is the negative side.
2.Cultural relativism is showing a sense of understanding for different cultures and treating the uniqueness of these cultures with utmost respect.
3.Ethnocentrism is the belief that your culture is right or the best.

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1 Comment

  1. Ethnocentrism leads to conflict but relativism leads to social cooperation

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