PREJUDICE, DISCRIMINATION, ETHNOCENTRISM AND CULTURAL RELATIVISM

Introduction

This paper addresses a myriad of sociological phenomena and gives an insight of each one of them. They include; prejudice, discrimination, cultural relativism and ethnocentrism.

Prejudice

This is the assessment of a societal group and its members based on concepts characterized by prejudgment and misjudgment that are held despite overwhelming facts that disprove them. Prejudiced people think ill of people belonging to other groups different from them regardless of the countervailing attributes and characteristics that those persons may have. They are usually defined by negative predispositions or evaluations against an individual not in one’s social group and is repeatedly followed by a positive prejudice in the advantage of someone who is in one’s own group.

The most common kinds of prejudiced are based on ethnic or racial lines. Undoubtedly, not a single person is free of prejudice may it be toward racial or ethnic groups, lower class or middle class, straight, gay or disadvantaged. Research has indicated that people who are more prejudiced have a high likelihood of stereotyping others by gender or race. Though people are prejudiced, they are not born prejudiced or with stereotypes, but rather, they learn them and are internalized through the socialization process. This is done through family members, peers and the media which all play a big pivotal role in nurturing prejudices and stereotypes. It has been revealed through research that the more prejudiced the parent, the more likely prejudiced the child would be (Kendall, 2011).

Discrimination

Discrimination may take various forms ranging from income discrimination, discrimination in housing, discrimination in employment and promotion. However, prejudiced attitudes may not always to discrimination (Andersen & Taylor, 2006).

Prejudiced non-discriminators hold personal prejudices but do not discriminate because of peer pressure, legal demands or desire for profits. A case in point is where a prejudiced White coach hiring a Black player to enhance the team’s ability to emerge as winners. Discriminatory actions vary in their forms form use of severe violence (Andersen & Taylor 2006). An illustration of these inhumane acts is genocide which is the deliberate mass killing of an entire people based on race or their ethnicity. Of late, ethnic cleansing which is conducted in geographical areas by causing people to flee by meting out violence on them is also a severe mode of discrimination.

Ethnocentrism

This is the conviction that one’s faction is better than all other factions. The ethnocentric person believes that his/her own group is moral, just, right and that any members of an out group are the counterpoise of that. The ethnocentric individual uses his/her own group as a benchmark to compare other groups. A positive characteristic of ethnocentrism is that it creates a strong sense of group solidarity and group superiority. An example of this is nationalism which binds people and rallies them towards a common cause. However, taken to the limits, nationalism may be highly exclusionary, rejecting those who do not share their culture and experience. Ethnocentrism can lead to political conflicts, war, terrorism and even genocide. Clear indications of these are the Alqaeda extremists who believe that terrorism is a justified tactic of jihad, which is religious struggle of the Islamic faith. Ethnocentrism is largely to blame for the many contemporary wars witnessed currently (Kendall, 2011).

Cultural relativism

It means that a far-off culture should not be assessed using the values of the local culture. Cultural relatism also implies that a behavior or way of thinking must be examined in its cultural context. That is in terms of that culture’s values, norms, values, beliefs, environmental challenges and history. Negative characteristic of this perspective is that it encourages an anything goes point of view, discouraging critical assessment and portrays all cultures as equal in value, regardless of obvious cruel practices. The positive attributes is that it aims to understand a culture on its own terms. The primary aim is not to condone or discredit it. If anything, it acts as check against uncritical and overvalued acceptance of the home culture, narrow thinking and unsympathetic portrayals.

Whilst the Americans may wonder why Koreans eat dogs, the later may be appalled why Americans let dogs lick their faces and spend so much on them. If one looks at the historical reasons, it might not seem so unreasonable bearing in mind that in Asia land is scarce and is used for growing crops whilst in America there is abundant land and most Americans believe dos to understand them better after their spouses (Ferrante, 2011).

 

 

 

Reference

Andersen. M & Taylor. F (2006). Sociology: Understanding a Diverse Society. Chicago: Thomson and Watford Publishers. Pp.254-261

Ferrante J. Sociology (2011): A Global Perspective. Californa: Wadsworth Cengage learning publishers. Pp.189-203

Kendall. K (2011). Sociology in Our Time. Illinois: Wordsworth Cengage learning publishers. pp.283-288

 

 

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