What is Ethnocentrism?
Ethnocentrism is the view or belief that one’s ethnicity is superior over the others. The “ethno” from the word ethnocentrism comes from “ethnos”, a Greek word meaning “people”. “Centrism” meanwhile refers to “center”. Literally, ethnocentrism translates to people’s self-centeredness, viewing oneself as better than others, in terms of beliefs and/or points of view.
Ethnocentrism as a philosophical concept began in the early parts of the 20th century, wherein people would make assumptions or believe that one’s practices and beliefs are better than the others. Ethnocentrism became the exact opposite of “Cultural Relativism”, wherein the values and beliefs of other people or cultures are accepted and tolerated. It involved acceptance that one belief or one way of doing things may work for a particular community, but may not work for others. It does not in any way view one’s own values as the only thing that’s right.
In today’s society, people may not be aware that ethnocentrism exists. People got used to being what they are, and believing in the things they believe, without really thinking that their choices may be a result of feeling superior over others. A classic example is on the topic of religion. People may declare themselves as God-fearing and tolerant of other people’s allegiance to other churches. But in some religious activities, people may involve themselves in rituals that are supposedly correct and the only way to apply what’s written on the Bible. People may not realize that sometimes he/she may view these rituals as better or superior while viewing other practices as incorrect. Some people even declare that the only way of truth is their particular religion and not others.
Because of different views and different backgrounds, people are exposed to the concept of ethnocentrism. A clear understanding and total acceptance of people’s differences is important if one does not want to be called ethnocentric.