ETHNOCENTRISM Sociology Help

ETHNOCENTRISM 

T; ere is an Eskimo tribe who call themselves the Inuit, which translates as "the real people" [Herbert, 1973, p. 2]. Sumner called this outlook ethnocentrism, formally defined as "that view of things in which one's own group is the center of everything and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it" [Sumner, 1906, p. 13]. Stated less formally, ethnocentrism is the habit of each group taking assume,  without thought or argument, that monogamy is better: than polygamy, that young people should choose their own mates, and that it is best for the young married couple to live by themselves. Our society is "progressive," while the non-Western world .is "backward"; our art is beautiful, whereas ·that of other societies may be viewed as . grotesque; our religion is true; others are pagan superstition. Ethnocentrism makes our culture into a yardstick with which to measure all other cultures as good or bad, high or low, right. or queer in proportion as the ensemble ours. It is 'expressed in such phrases as "chosen  people," "progressive superior race," "true believers," and by epithets like "foreign devils," "infidels," "heathen," ''backward peoples," "barbarians," and "savages." Like the Bostonian who "didn't need to travel because he was already here," we are usually quick to recognize ethnocentrism in others and slow to see it in ourselves. Most, if not all, groups within a society are ethnocentric, Callow [1964, p. 213) studied fifty-five sets of six organizations each, including fraternities, churches, insurance companies, colleges, and many others. He found that members overestimated the prestige of their own organizations eight times as often as they underestimated it. Levine and Campbell [1972] list twenty-three facets of a "universal syndrome of ethnocentrism," that is, ethnocentric responses which they find in all societies. Ethnocentrism is a universal human reaction, found in all known societies, in all groups, and in practically all individuals. Exposure to the history of minority groups is helping both minorities. and the majority to become aware of their ethnocentrism. Consider the following comments on the origin of many discoveries: "Black history has made people aware that white people did hot give America such things as the stoplight, the shoe last, heart operations and sugar refining, but that black people did; that John. Smith did not develop corn and tobacco, but learned to grow these crops from the Indians." [Brazziel, 1969, p. 349).

Posted on September 1, 2014 in FIELD AND METHODS OF SOCIOLOGY

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