He ethnocentrism it is a concept elaborated by the anthropology to mention the tendency that leads a person or social group to interpret reality from its own cultural parameters . This practice is linked to the belief that the ethnicity Its own and its cultural practices are superior to the behaviors of other groups.
An ethnocentric view judges and qualifies customs, beliefs and language other cultures according to a worldview considered desirable (which is always their own). The differences between one group and another constitute the cultural identity .
Ethnocentrism is a tendency common to any human group. It is usual for the elements of the culture itself to be qualified or commented on positive terms , negatively describing the beliefs and customs of others. The practices of oneself are considered normal and even logical, unlike the exotic and little understandable behaviors of the other.
Anthropologists and other social scientists they must strive not to fall into ethnocentrism when analyzing cultures that are alien to them . The researcher must constantly fight the temptation to consider his own cultural structure as normal or superior to perform an objective work. Ethnocentrism also prevents learning (I can't learn from something that I consider inferior or less valuable than what I already have).
Respect for one's identity does not imply having an ethnocentric vision of the world: on the contrary, value cultural differences It is a way to enhance our own history.
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism
From its origins, anthropology has struggled to combat ethnocentrism that ponders some cultures over others and generates a great discrimination and disparity around the needs of the people; where those who get the most benefits are the hegemonic groups.
Ethnocentrism is a cultural universal; Everywhere there are people who believe that their way of understanding life and customs is correct to the detriment of those groups that do not share them. In fact they consider that those different behaviors are strange or wild .
There is also another concept known as cultural relativism , which is located at the opposite end of ethnocentrism. This current of thought affirms that no culture should be judged from the patterns of another.
Like all extreme reasoning, cultural relativism can also be negative because it can be tolerant with those behaviors that threaten the life or freedom of the individuals that are part of a town. That is to say that, from this point of view, we should accept the predominant ideas of Nazi Germany, just as we accept those that come from classical Greece.
It is important that anthropologists, from an objective, sensitive and above all, cross-cultural point of view, study a culture, but without ignoring those values that have to do with justice and ethics, which should aim at the defense of the individuality of all people in any cultural field.
It could be said that within an ethnocentric position, the way to approach another culture would be from an authoritarian position that considers that everything that moves away from society itself is primitive, immature and even despicable. It is worth mentioning that these thoughts deny the process of hominization and the history of the human diversity.
For its part, cultural relativism affirms that the characteristic features of a place must analyzed only within the system that belong and that are as worthy of respect as those of any other.