Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

How would you explain favoritism for ethnocentrism or cultural relativism?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A favoritism for ethnocentrism likely originates from a limited exposure to varied cultural experiences. Those who favor cultural relativism are likely more familiar with numerous cultures' norms and have learned to appreciate the differences within those cultures. Let's begin by defining each of these perspectives.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

A favoritism for ethnocentrism likely originates from a limited exposure to varied cultural experiences. Those who favor cultural relativism are likely more familiar with numerous cultures' norms and have learned to appreciate the differences within those cultures. Let's begin by defining each of these perspectives.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to examine the world from the perspective of one's own culture with the innate belief that this is the "right" way to view the world. Cultural relativism instead examines various topics within the context of a culture's norms; it also asks that researchers or social scientists examine their own assumptions and biases when considering other cultures' practices or beliefs.

To consider how this looks in common practice, consider your own reaction to common foods (and even some delicacies) that are served outside the United States:

  • Muktuk: A traditional Inuit meal of frozen whale skin and blubber, which is typically served raw or pickled.
  • Fried tarantulas: A popular snack in Cambodia.
  • Balut: A popular food in the Philippines made from a fertilized duck egg. The living embryo is boiled alive and then eaten from the shell with salt, chili, and vinegar—including the partially developed embryo with its feathers and bones.
  • Tuna eyeballs: Served in restaurants throughout Japan and an ingredient in numerous recipes.
  • Shirako: Sperm sacs from cod, angler fish, or puffer fish served as a "sweet" treat in Japan.

It is easy for Americans to read through such food options with more than a little unease. After all, finding sperm sacs and duck embryos on a menu isn't a common experience in America, and these are not items that most people have considered consuming before.

An ethnocentric perspective would judge these food choices as inferior or wrong in some way. Cultural relativism would approach the food choices from a neutral position and consider the way particular aspects of a culture are reflected in food options.

A favoritism for ethnocentrism could originate from a limited exposure to a variety of cultures. If a person exists exclusively within a culture that reflects only their own preferences, values, or beliefs, they aren't likely to consider the benefits of cultures that differ from their own. In contrast, a person who grows up in a diverse community where many cultures come together and celebrate their differences is much more likely to develop a perspective of cultural relativism.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on