Definition of Ethnocentrism – Examples, Meaning, Psychology

Mr Sharma, being a conservative, orthodox, and religious Hindu man, believes Hinduism to be the best-regarded in terms of chastity. He would promote it whenever and wherever he could, ridicule other religions and soon started developing profound hatred for not only the religions but also the followers of the same. Mr Sharma suffers from ethnocentrism. He is tagged as ‘Narrow-minded’ in society.

Definition of Ethnocentrism

According to Google, Ethnocentrism is the evaluation of other cultures according to the preconceptions originating in the standards & customs of one’s own culture.

Ethnocentric people are judgmental; moreover, racial bias sticks to them like parasites. In terms of advancements, people have upgraded themselves in all aspects but left behind the aim of modernizing their thoughts, the way their brain functions in cultural and religious realms. Ethnocentrism can be precisely compared to ‘Aggressive Nationalism’ i.e. love for one’s own nation and hatred for the others; similarly, ethnocentrism is love for one’s own religion and hatred for the others. It is a natural tendency, a learned behaviour embedded into a variety of beliefs and values. An ethnocentric person experiences superiority complex in consideration to group, race, society, or culture.

Examples of Ethnocentrism

Some of the numerous examples of ethnocentrism are as follows:

1. Nazi Germany

Hitler, being prejudiced, considered Jews and all races other than his ethnicity, as inferior and slaughtered many innocent lives for the same reason.

2. Imperialism

A practice in which a more powerful nation exercises control over a weaker one in order to exploit it for its labour, raw materials, ports and other valuable resources. European imperialism came into light as an example of ethnocentrism because of Europe’s idea of it being superior and therefore saw it as a ‘need’ to establish control over the world to bring it to reach ’their standards’.

3. Consumer Ethnocentrism

People have become brand conscious, moreover, they look for costly and renowned tags on items they purchase, rather than their choice. People judge their acquaintances’ monitory condition by looking for logos on items of daily usage. Also, people of ‘modern’ times prefer to buy imported goods rather than ‘Swadeshi’ goods.

Types of Ethnocentrism

Based on partiality, this practice has various types, some of which are:

1. American Exceptionalism

Coined by- Auxis de Tocqueville

Year of Coinage- 1831

Parameters of Qualitative Differentiation- 

  • Unique origins
  • National credo
  • Historical evolution
  • Distinctive political and religious institutions

2. Eurocentrism

Coined by-Samir Amin

Year of Coinage- the 1970s

The Principles of Eurocentrism Include-

  • Consideration of races other than whites or Europeans as inferior
  • Ignoring or denying their existence
  • Tagging other communities as backward, slow and non-progressive
  • The Europeans thought themselves as the inventors of the ‘modern world’ in scientific, technological and cultural realms.

 3. Japanocentrism

While creating a positive attitude towards one’s own ethnic group, with a negative attitude toward the others, Japanocentrism involves-

  • Being pretentious and judging other groups by preconceived notions
  • Ainu people (now, found in Hokkaido island) tagged as uncivilized
  • Believing itself to be at the centre of the world
  • Coinage of words promoting ethnocentrism like Gaijin (meaning- foreigner, as in, not Japanese, Korean, or Chinese) and Kanji (meaning- outside)

The Concept of Ethnocentrism

David, a five-year-old, love ice-creams. His favourite one is chocolate ice cream. He would never try any other flavour and without even tasting other flavours, he mocked at all other ice-cream flavours, David claimed chocolate to be the best. Even when he tried strawberry flavour, he started comparing it with chocolate ice cream. David, even a five-year-old is suffering from ethnocentrism to an extent.

Ethnocentrism at extremes can have adverse effects such as boycott of certain communities or races, religious or social backwardness, narrow mindedness, lack of empathy and sympathy, deteriorating human relations due to fewer interactions, untouchability and hostilities between various sects. Its concept can be explained in simple words as the central idea of stereotypical and orthodox thoughts which instigate racism in various societies.

Conclusion

Ethnocentrism is a callous practice wherein a dominant group may perceive new members as a threat to their own ethnicity and culture. At extremities, it can induce slavery, apartheid, and genocide. However, it is not counted as a mental disorder; ethnocentrism is observed in all members of the human ‘race’ with a marked exception of a few only. One must try not to be pretentious regarding any fact and make efforts to confirm the truthfulness of ideology before spreading it or setting up foundations of a strong belief in it.

Believing in the principle of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ will help us find a spiritual way to fight against this evil practice. The world is evidently trying to reduce ill ethnocentric feelings by the introduction and formulation of United Nations Organization, organizing international events such as Asian Games, Olympics, and Commonwealth Games to promote feelings of oneness in ‘ world citizens’.

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