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Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

The article I read is by Kerem Ozan Kalkan in The Washington Post media. It is an article from 2017 surrounding research on American attitude towards the Muslim community. The article compares attitudes towards different cultures and religions in the United States and draws a conclusion focusing on Muslim culture. The article also identifies similarities between attitudes towards Muslim culture and other areas involved. These are areas of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Culture refers to the structures of knowledge shared by a large group of people. Symbols are the primary means through which cultural patterns, both explicit and implicit, are learned and passed down from one generation to the next. Culture is an expression of the uniqueness of human communities, which includes their customs and their associated values (Kalkan &Khan, 2017). Depending on one’s perspective, cultural systems may be seen as both the results of activity and the forces that future condition action.

Ethnocentrism is a belief that one’s culture is much better than other cultures and beliefs. Sometimes extremists may want to change the other culture’s way of life as a result. The principle of cultural relativism is to avoid making quick judgments about the activities of a culture and to look at them from the perspective of that culture. An example of ethnocentricity is observed in Asian cultures, prevalent in all Asian nations. Chopsticks are used for every meal throughout Asia, even in the United States. They do not embrace other practices, such as how the American society, eat with forks, spoons, and knives. Colonialism is another form of ethnocentrism. The British did not appreciate the Indian culture hence forced the Indians to subscribe to the British culture. Nazi Germany is a particularly heinous case study in ethnocentrism. As a result of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic rage, he ordered the deaths of countless innocents in concentration camps.

The article describes the popularity index of the Muslim culture as one faced by major ethnocentrism. Muslim culture is viewed as weaker beliefs and customs than all other religions in the US (Kalkan &Khan, 2017). People find most people who do not belong to their race or sexual orientation as weaker and less significant. They believe that their race or sexual orientation is much more appropriate than any other.

Cultural relativism could help ease the situation regarding ethnocentrism in various ways. People can start to appreciate other people’s cultures as much as their own. For instance, the article notes that the American attitude has improved over the last few years. This can be attributed to the development of cultural relativism in the country. People have begun to judge the actions and beliefs of others based on the culture that those other people believe in.

People are learning to accommodate other people’s beliefs who do not subscribe to their culture. Cultural relativism has also helped people identify strengths in other people’s cultures and weaknesses in giving room for more concession. Ethnocentrism can be eliminated through increased awareness of cultural relativism in the society.


Kalkan, K. O., & Khan, K. (2017). Muslims are the least popular religious group in the US They’re disliked even more than atheists. The Washington Post.


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