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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Define Ethnocentrism and explain its merits and demerits



Ethnocentrism 

The common and daily used sayings of the individuals of a society that their culture, armed forces, intelligence bravery are the best of all others and that others are backward, underdeveloped and primitive people is a sign of ethnocentrism. McCurdy (1980) states an example that explains ethnocentrism :
What ‘we’ believe in is a religion? What they believe is superstition and
mythology.”


Definition of Ethnocentrism

1. William Graham Summer :
“The tendency to assume that one’s culture and way of life is superior to all others.”

2. Cuber :
“The tendency of persons to judge other cultures by the standards of judgment prevailing in their own.”

3. Getteyes :
Ethnocentrism is an emotional role in which individuals think their group, race thoughts and religion superior to those of other societies which express the inferiority of others."

4. Ibn-e-Khaldun :
That common desire of a group and their emotions of uniformity in individuals which should keep them united and play a powerful force in an action is called ethnocentrism."

5. RT. Schacfer :
“The tendency to see one’s own culture as superior to all others is called ethnocentrism.”

Merits of Ethnocentrism 

1. Group Solidarity :
Functionalists note that ethnocentrism serves to maintain a sense of solidarity by promoting people’s pride." Since ethnocentrism is the name of thinking one’s own culture better and superior to others so a pride and superiority feeling is created which in turn creates a unity and group solidarity. This concept of ethnocentrism was first given by the founder of sociology, Ibn-e-Khaldun in a his famous theory, Alasbiata. He says: “Ethnocentrism passion is a cause of unity among people of a nation. When this decreases, the nation begins to suffer a downfall because of disorder and dispersion.

2. Effective Defence :
Ethnocentrism creates a sense of group security which makes the individuals an effective force for defence of their culture and even sacrifices their lives and this makes a collective defence against external aggression or danger. Pakistan being less in population and area, takes pride in her bravery and unity based on ethnocentrism and remained successful for effective defence in war.

3. Promotion of Integrity : 
Functionalists view that ethnocentrism increases uniformity within the society which promotes the cultural integrity."

Ethnocentrism creates uniformity and love with arts, beliefs and cultural values in the individuals of a society. By promoting mutual connections, creates self-belongingness and commerce pride which results in cultural and national unity. In Pakistan, people because of their common language, dress, religion, cultural values and customs have deep cultural unity and attachment with each others.

4. Preservation of Culture :

The greatest merit of ethnocentrism is solidarity of culture. These emotions promote a sense of favour and love with culture. When individuals of a society show hatred towards other cultures,. actually they show love and attachment with their own culture and take pride in acting upon the principles of their culture and this pride provides a mechanism to save the culture. Other culture’s diffusion becomes less and cultural change meets a serious opposition and external interference comes to an end. i

Demerits of Ethnocentrism

1. Promotion of Groups :
Ethnocentrism creates an intense self-belongingness in specific and minority groups and big societies are divided into small groups, creating a danger to unity. It is also likely to involve in quarrels by providing superiority and social pride and thus, linguist social riots create disorder and dispersion.

2. Hurdle in Social Development : 
Ethnocentrism creates a hesitation among individuals to adopt new values, traditions which prevents the way to progress. Summer’s supposition that, “More intense loyalty and patriotism, more difficult the cooperation between cultures and leads to more hurdles in social development."

3. Complications in Social Problems :
Ethnocentrism provides security to culture but when ruling powers try to use new invention and views, many changes are produced in culture, creating problems of disharmony and unconcern on the part of  Individuals,
having specific interests lose their importance by making the problems more serious and resulting in the‘ form of disorder and dispersion and material non-cooperation and a solution of one problem gives rise to many other ones.

4. Hindrance in Assimilation :
Ethnocentrism stabilizes cooperation and sympathy in a group but inter-group relations become a source of hatred are non-cooperation and injustice because of distinctive treatment and non-attention resulting in a hindrance of  assimilation of cultural characteristics of each other. Small groups merging into big groups for big culture, suffer a negative effort. In America, the distinctive treatment between black and white men based on ethnocentrism results in riots. In India, the cultural superiority of Hindus creates a behaviour of injustice and hatred against Sikhs by making fun of their beliefs and by keeping them repressed and this creates restlessness in Sikhs of India.


Cultural Relativism 

It is not always correct to think one’s own culture as the best one. Cultural relationship helps in understanding any culture and its characteristics because:
“Cultural Relativism is opposite to ethnocentrism and according to it no belief, action or behaviour is either bad or good but that depends upon the way that a society considers it. In other simple words, “Nothing is good and bad but thinking makes it so.”
For example, in some societies simple family is liked while in others extended family system is liked. In Indian culture, cow is sacred whereas in Pakistani culture cow is slayed and its meat is eaten and sacrificed on the occasion of Bid. So culture is a relative term so far its beliefs, traditions, values, customs and style of life is concerned. Every culture is concerned with the betterment of life of its individuals of a society. 

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