Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the field of Anthropology. Both terms refer to how cultures view and relate to each other. In today’s world, there are people that support ethnocentrism, there are people that support cultural realism, and there are people that are “undecided” or do not know what either terms means.
Ethnocentrism is defined as “the assumption that one’s own groups’ lifestyle, values, and patters of adaptations are superior to all others.“ This can refer to how a country views another country’s culture as inferior, or can refer to how different groups of people within one country view each other. I think that everybody has been Ethnocentric at one time or another, though it is not something that I, or anyone else, would like to admit. Sometimes people are aware, or even proud, of being ethnocentric, such as clans, like the KKK, or gangs, such as the Bloods or the Crypts. The KKK is ethnocentric because they believe in white supremacy, and anyone who is not the same as them is “inferior”. Similar are the beliefs of different gangs, which all believe that they are better than each other and that they should “rule: the areas that they populate. Anyone who challenges them is considered inferior to them, and can sometimes suffer consequences.
Aside from clans or gangs, individual people can be ethnocentric towards a single person or a group of people. I know that I have unconsciously acted a certain way towards people, and not realized it until afterwards. One example of this is how I used to view cultures In the Middle East, because it is so different from ours. I could never understand how women could put up with being treated the way they are, or how the government is run, but I have realized that I should not make judgments until I have experienced what they have experienced, or “walked a mile in their shoes”. This realization is called “cultural relativism”.
Cultural relativism is defined as “the principle that all cultural systems are inherently equal in value and, therefore, that each cultural item must be understood on its own terms.” I think that everyone should embrace this principle, because no one should judge other cultures and ways of life without experiences it. In the case of Middle Eastern cultures, the women believe that we are the ones who need to be saved. In their eyes, the females in our society have too much power, and should be more like them. Their society has taught them how to act, dress, feel, etc since birth, as our society has taught us to act, think, and feel. We both believe that the other society’s females should be more like us. I think many societies believe that everyone else should be like them. But without living in a different culture, we cannot truly say that ours is “better” than someone else’s.
By have a society that leans more towards cultural relativism and not ethnocentrism, we can begin to truly understand and appreciate other cultures and societies more than we do now. There are many things we look over, or pass off as “bad” or “wrong”, but if we could stop these stereotypes, we could appreciate the beauty of everyone else.
 Podolefsky, Aaron; Peter Brown, and Scott Lacy. Applying Anthropology: An Introductory Reader. 9th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill. 2009. Print. Page: G-4.
 Podolefsky, Aaron; Peter Brown, and Scott Lacy. Applying Anthropology: An Introductory Reader. 9th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill. 2009. Print. Page: G-3.