What Caitlin hadn’t realized was that people depend not only on spoken words but also on subtle cues like gestures and facial expressions, to communicate. In sociology, we call this culture shock. Sociologists attempting to engage in cultural relativism, then, may struggle to reconcile aspects of their own culture with aspects of a culture that they are studying. In January 2011, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America presented evidence indicating that the hormone oxytocin could regulate and manage instances of ethnocentrism. Even within a society different social groups are ethnocentric against one another. Perhaps the greatest challenge for sociologists studying different cultures is the matter of keeping a perspective. Ethnocentrism leads to the formation of feelings of ‘us’ and ‘them’ creating and enforcing the ideas of an in-group and an out-group, where the former will refer to the people of one’s own culture, and the latter to the people of another culture. Over the course of his stay, Barger participated in caribou hunts, learned how to take shelter in winter storms, and sometimes went days with little or no food to share among tribal members. Experiencing new cultures offers an opportunity to practice cultural relativism. People with the best intentions sometimes travel to a society to “help” its people, because they see them as uneducated or backward—essentially inferior. This is an example of: You’ll have more success on the Self-Check, if you’ve completed the three Readings in this section. Culture shock may appear because people aren’t always expecting cultural differences. For this reason, culture shock is often associated with traveling abroad, although it can happen in one’s own country, state, or even hometown. It is impossible for anyone to keep all cultural biases at bay; the best we can do is strive to be aware of them. (Photo courtesy of OledSidorenko/flickr). By the end of Caitlin’s trip, she’d made new lifelong friends. Xenocentrism is the opposite of ethnocentrism, and refers to the belief that another culture is superior to one’s own. But as they experience unanticipated differences from their own culture, their excitement gives way to discomfort and doubts about how to behave appropriately in the new situation. A more modern example of cultural imperialism may include the work of international aid agencies who introduce agricultural methods and plant species from developed countries while overlooking indigenous varieties and agricultural approaches that are better suited to the particular region. There was new food to digest, new daily schedules to follow, and new rules of etiquette to learn. Sociology Group: Sociology and Other Social Sciences Blog, Learn Sociology and Other Social Sciences. Xenocentrism is the opposite of ethnocentrism, and refers to the belief that another culture is superior to one’s own. The belief that one’s culture is inferior to another culture is called: 2. Europe’s colonial expansion, begun in the sixteenth century, was often accompanied by a severe cultural imperialism. Despite how much humans have in common, cultural differences are far more prevalent than cultural universals. Sometimes when people attempt to rectify feelings of ethnocentrism and develop cultural relativism, they swing too far to the other end of the spectrum. This process will create the tendency of in-group favoritism or bias, as we are likely to favor our own culture and thus accept the cultural practices of our own culture as opposed to that of the other. The main difference between ethnocentrism and xenocentrism is the preference of culture. But the tribal members congratulated him, saying, “You really tried!” In Barger’s own culture, he had learned to value victory. Why do you believe this? When Rodney’s host brother introduces himself and kisses Rodney on both cheeks, Rodney pulls back in surprise. In reality, these travelers are guilty of cultural imperialism, the deliberate imposition of one’s own cultural values on another culture. 3. A good example of ethnocentrism is referring to parts of Asia as the “Far East.” One might question, “Far east of where?”. She’d stepped out of her comfort zone. Where he is from, unless they are romantically involved, men do not kiss one another. Originally from Indiana, Barger hesitated when invited to join a local snowshoe race. Ethnocentrism is often a judgment that we make based on our own culture, we tend to believe that what we practice in our own culture is right, as opposed to the practices of the other cultures, it is a kind of cultural relativism where we are comparing our own culture to the other while at the same time keeping the focus on our own culture. We all learn ethnocentrism while growing up, as the practices of our own culture are normalized to us, we automatically tend to start assuming any practice that is not a part of our culture is not normal. In the Western countries, it is normal for girls to wear dresses that are short, skirts, cut sleeve clothes whereas in India, even though now it is coming to be accepted, those wearing such clothes are often judged to have a loose character it is said that girls should always be dressed in clothes covering their body, as this is ideal and thus they must not attempt to copy the west. Anthropologist Kalervo Oberg (1960) is credited with first coining the term “culture shock.” In his studies, Oberg found that most people found encountering a new culture to be exciting at first. During her summer vacation, Caitlin flew from Chicago to Madrid to visit Maria, the exchange student she’d befriended the previous semester. Ethnocentrism means The tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own traditional, deferred, or adoptive ethnic culture, while Xenocentrism means a preference for the products, styles, or ideas of a different culture. Caitlin was half asleep by the time supper was served—at 10 p.m.! Almost everyone is a little bit ethnocentric. Ethnocentrism, as sociologist William Graham Sumner (1906) described the term, involves a belief or attitude that one’s own culture is better than all others. Ethnocentrism is the practice where we tend to believe that our own culture, ethnic group, race, etc. Eventually, as people learn more about a culture, they recover from culture shock. While ethnocentrism is a good promoter of a group solidarity or we feeling, on of the major drawbacks for it is the fact that, when we label another group as them and their practices as not normal, we tend to not cooperate with these groups as doing so would require us to compromise on our own culture. Perhaps the Chicago traveler was initially captivated with Montana’s quiet beauty and the Chinese student was originally excited to see a U.S.-style classroom firsthand. As nouns the difference between ethnocentrism and xenocentrism is that ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own traditional, deferred, or adoptive ethnic culture while xenocentrism is a preference for the products, styles, or ideas of a different culture. A traveler from Chicago might find the nightly silence of rural Montana unsettling, not peaceful. But ethnocentrism can lead to disdain or dislike for other cultures and could cause misunderstanding and conflict. The way cuisines vary across cultures fascinates many people. 1. Such attitudes are an example of ethnocentrism, or evaluating and judging another culture based on how it compares to one’s own cultural norms. Most cultures have been found to identify laughter as a sign of humor, joy, or pleasure. People react to frustration in a new culture, Oberg found, by initially rejecting it and glorifying one’s own culture. North Americans keep more distance and maintain a large “personal space.” Even something as simple as eating and drinking varies greatly from culture to culture. Likewise, most cultures recognize music in some form. Sure enough, he finished last, to his mortification. Maria’s mother kissed Caitlin on both cheeks when she greeted her. Cultural relativism is the practice of assessing a culture by its own standards rather than viewing it through the lens of one’s own culture.


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