Open main menu


  (Redirected from Ethnocentric)

Ethnocentrism [1]is when an individual imposes a judgement on a culture based on the principles of their culture. When the judgement comes from a feeling of superiority, ethnocentrism can develop into racism and prejudice.

However, being ethnocentric does not always lead to problematic views of other cultures. Ethnocentrism can also inspire people to be patriotic and to be proud of their background. The father of modern anthropology, Franz Boas[2], has argued that it is healthy to be ethnocentric because being bias or making judgements on another culture, brings people closer to their native culture. Also, researchers believe that most people are naturally ethnocentric[3] because people make judgements about people and things on a regular basis.


Origins of the conceptEdit

An American geologist named William John Mcgee[4] first introduced the idea of ethnocentrism in one of his articles in 1900. He suggested that ethnic people become ethnocentric from adopting egocentrism. He also attributed ethnocentrism to people choosing to be ignorant and not stepping outside their social bubble. This term was expanded in 1906 by a social Darwinist and political scientist named William Graham Sumner[5]. His definition of ethnocentrism focused on the idea of an ethnic in-group and an out-group. The ethnic in-group can be self-centered and focused on their importance which can cause their view of the out-group (the other culture) to be negative.  


The two main types of ethnocentrism are consumer ethnocentrism and religiocentrism.

Consumer ethnocentrism[6]:Edit

Consumer ethnocentrism is when someone prefers to buy products within their own country and avoid purchasing products from foreign countries. Some people stick to buying their country’s products in order to help out their economy and to support jobs. Buying foreign products can also be viewed more harshly by being seen as unpatriotic and as a betrayal, so many people become ethnocentric consumers as a way to stay loyal to their country. Consumer ethnocentrism is very popular in Turkey and the Czech Republic because both countries have a strong sense of nationalism.


Religiocentrism [7]is when someone believes that their religion is the one true religion, making it the superior religion. Religiocentric people can either be tolerant of outside religions or be dismissive toward them.

This idea has been the motivation behind many religious wars[8] throughout history such as The Crusades, Israel vs Canaan, and the Muslim conquest. Though religiocentrism is not a term used to discuss these wars, the people involved were most likely religiocentric.


Social Identity Theory[9]:Edit

When a person recognizes the value and the pride of their group/community. The founder of this theory, Henri Tajifel, suggests that larger groups tend to compete against each other for dominance and power. When people become attached to their groups, they can become ethnocentric once they decide that their group is more significant.

An example of this theory could be found in the movie, Bring it On, where cheerleading squads compete against each other in competitions in order to become more popular and more successful. The members of each squad are very loyal toward each other and often trash talk the other teams in order to be on top.

Realistic Conflict Theory[10]:Edit

This theory was created by a social psychologist named Muzafer Sherif, based on his Robbers Cave experiment, to prove how fighting over limited resources can cause tension between groups. His overall idea is that while competing for resources, both groups get frustrated and try to make claims that their group is more deserving of the resources. That frustration can lead to negative attitudes toward the opposing groups which can lead to prejudice, stereotyping and in the worst case, racism.

Relationship to AnthropologyEdit

Anthropology[11] is the study of the developments of cultures and the developments of societies. It is crucial for anthropologists to avoid an ethnocentric view as they are conducting their studies. If anthropologists are ethnocentric, their findings will be less objective and very bias.

Ways to combat ethnocentrismEdit

Though it has be argued that most people are ethnocentric, there are still methods that researches have proposed to prevent ethnocentrism from turning into racism.

Cultural Relativism[12]:Edit

Cultural Relativism is the belief that all cultures are equal and important, so people cannot judge another culture. This belief has been difficult for people to adopt because it calls for absolute tolerance of other cultures, preventing people from using any judgements at all which many people have considered to be impossible.

Intercultural Communication[13]:Edit

Intercultural communication proposes that people should spend more time learning about other cultures by taking the time to meet people from different cultures. This can combat ethnocentrism by helping people get rid of any predetermined ideas they had about a culture and help build a bond.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "What Is and Is Not Ethnocentrism? A Conceptual Analysis and Political Impli...: EBSCOhost". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  2. ^ Chen, Ling (2017-04-10). Intercultural Communication. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9781501500060. 
  3. ^ "EBSCOhost Login". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  4. ^ "What Is and Is Not Ethnocentrism? A Conceptual Analysis and Political Impli...: EBSCOhost". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  5. ^ "What Is and Is Not Ethnocentrism? A Conceptual Analysis and Political Impli...: EBSCOhost". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  6. ^ The Audiopedia (2017-03-29), What is CONSUMER ETHNOCENTRISM? What does CONSUMER ETHNOCENTRISM mean?, retrieved 2018-09-19 
  7. ^ The Audiopedia (2017-12-18), What is RELIGIOCENTRISM? What does RELIGIOCENTRISM mean? RELIGIOCENTRISM meaning & explanation, retrieved 2018-09-19 
  8. ^ "The Top Religious Wars in History". Religio Magazine | Faith and Religion. 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  9. ^ Chen, Ling (2017-04-10). Intercultural Communication. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9781501500060. 
  10. ^ "Robbers Cave Experiment / Realistic Conflict Theory | Simply Psychology". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  11. ^ "Ethnocentrism - Anthropology - iResearchNet". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  12. ^ "Cultural Relativism". Retrieved 2018-09-19. 
  13. ^ Chen, Ling (2017-04-10). Intercultural Communication. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9781501500060.