Ethnocentrism Analysis

Ethnocentrism Analysis

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Ethnocentrism Analysis

Ethnocentrism is the act of a certain community or society seeing itself to be superior compared others regarding its principles and traditions. Ethnocentrism is filled with some preconceptions about another society concerning, for example, their religions and cultural beliefs. This notion is typically wrong as it results in cultural hatred as well as hostility towards those outside the individual groups. Culture is essential in society as it is the one that defines who an individual is. Different cultures are performing different practices, and therefore everyone tends to value their cultures more than those of others, and this makes everyone to be ethnocentric (Booth, 2014). However, the issue to do with ethnocentrism can be an opportunity to identify and resolve the individuals’ biases, and also to absorb more about the capabilities that they possess for being human. Thus this can be a lifetime process of growth and learning.

The stages of ethnocentrism are classified according to individuals’ attitudes towards differences in culture. There are those individuals or societies who are in denial stage and they tend to deny that cultural differences exist, there are those in the defense stage, and they tend to demonize those in denial stage. Finally, there are those in the minimization stage; who underestimate differences. The stages as outlined by Bennet (2004) are as follows;

Denial stage

Under this stage of ethnocentrism, the individuals tend to be not aware of the actuality of cultural differences. They are not threatened in any way by the cultural differences since they decline to concur them. It is thus considered as a primitive stage of ethnocentrism. The persons in this stage are ethnocentric because they tend to believe that their method of living is the correct one and thus those individuals or societies who behave otherwise basically do not recognize anything and are not aware of themselves. These people tend to impose their system of value upon others, and they also consider that they are always right and the rest who act differently are confused, fellows.

However, what can be learned about the perception of this kind of individuals is that they have had no time to associate and socialize with other individuals or communities and experience their way of living (Bennett, 2004). They segregate themselves, and therefore they lack exposure leading them not to embrace diversity. This stage is also characterized by the belief of an individual or a certain group believing to know better than the residents.

Defense Stage

Contrary to the previous stage, this stage acknowledges the cultural differences. The individuals in this stage tend to be not supremely uninformed of other people’s culture. However, they feel to be threatened by the presence of the other’s culture, and therefore they denigrate them with the aim of asserting their own cultural superiority. Thus, this acts as their defense mechanism. Ethnocentric individuals hence activate this type of defense mechanism to safeguard themselves as well as their partial cultural outlook. Also, the individuals in this stage tend to avoid the members of other communities by associating entirely with members of their cultures.

Minimization Stage

This stage comprises the recognition of cultural differences but not taking a keen interest in their importance in individuals’ lives. The individuals in this stage are still susceptible by cultural differences, and therefore they strain to minimize these differences by convincing themselves that individuals are more alike than dissimilar (Bennett, 2004, p.71). They no longer regard other individuals from other cultures as inferior or misguided, but they fail to recognize some unique traits from those cultures. The act of not identifying those distinctive traits is undoubtedly a method of ethnocentrism.


In creating a cohesive and productive environment, ethnorelativism needs to be embraced by the different cultures since no culture is superior to others. Therefore it is vital to identify the differences between cultures. The three stages of ethnorelativism are acceptance, adaptation, and integration.


In this stage of ethnorelativism, an individual understands that there exists several cultures with different practices and realize that the individuals are somehow different from them and hence the need for embracing diversity. Moreover, the individuals in this stage no longer regard other people’s culture as wrong, inferior or threatening as they learn to accept people as they are. They seem to be neutral to the differences in cultures as they see them as either bad or good but relatively as a fact of life. The notions of multiculturalism and biculturalism are introduced in this stage.

An excellent example to explain this stage is of an individual who is now capable of recognizing differences in nonverbal communication among individuals coming from different cultures (Rüsen, 2004, p.124). It is easy to spot the differences in language, but being aware of the non-verbal differences in communication arises from this stage. Therefore during the acceptance stage, it the appropriate time to place that ethnorelativism into action by encouraging cross-cultural simulations. This will include the participation in the simulation by individuals from other cultures, an act that will consent the individuals to exercise and develop their acceptance.


During the adaptation stage, one gains interest in other cultures and increases the need to learn about them. This call for more actions in acting as per the culture and it approves the level of interaction with that culture. For individuals to adapt to a particular culture, it requires them to become more active in learning the deeper values and norms in that culture. To become fully adapted to the culture one have to be fully conversant with its framework. An excellent example of cultural adaptation is when a profession deals with different culture and learn their cultural diversity.


Integration calls for a person being multicultural and not being identified with a single culture. At this stage evaluation of culture is done on a general basis and not on a single culture. At this stage individual maintain their own culture but also integrate some values of other culture into their own.

Strategies to transform the individual into a more culturally competent individual or a group

It’s always a challenge for one to understand all the cultures in the world; hence most of the people tend to remain ethnocentric. However, ethnocentrism can be avoided by realizing that it is possible to control biasness against other culture. Anthropologists have shown that it is always possible to have a balanced understanding of different cultures but to gain these skills people are supposed to know the various stages brought forward by these anthropologists. The first step is individuals accepting that they do not understand. For once they need to realize that they are ethnocentric and it is through their reaction towards other culture that makes them so. Having a negative attitude towards different culture is one of the indicators that an individual does not understand the culture being criticized (Rüsen, 2004, p.121). After understanding individuals’ reaction, it is now easier to have control of biasness towards other cultures. In this stage individuals typically seek knowledge to balance on their reactions. Here individuals realize that they do not know and that becomes the reason as to why they are seeking information about a particular culture.

Ways to Overcome Ethnocentrism

Individuals tend to become ethnocentric when they use their cultural standards to create some generality concerning other individuals’ beliefs and customs. Ethnocentric thinking results to individuals making wrong assumptions concerning other people (Matsumoto & Juang, 2016). It makes them make impulsive judgments. The following are some of the ways that can help them overcome ethnocentrism:

Avoid Assumptions

It is good to remember and expect that individuals from other cultures have different customs, values, and beliefs compared to those of them. Therefore it is good that they respect them and avoid making some unnecessary assumptions.

Learn Different Cultures

Researching about traditions as well as other peoples’ lifestyle is essential. It is always easy to learn to embrace cultural diversity when keeping an open mind toward new or dissimilar things.

Avoid Judgements

When there are individuals around who seem to be acting differently, it is noble not to assume that the individuals are making a mistake. Learning to appreciate differences is hence vital.

Be Respectful

Under this context, an individual or a particular group should similarly treat other people that they would want to be treated.

As seen in the above discussion, ethnocentrism is the act of a specific culture seeing itself to be superior compared to other cultures and hence having some bias towards them. This issue typically results in some negativities in the society such as hatred and conflicts among communities. Ethnocentrism is thus outlined in several stages characterizing the different characters of individuals under each stage concerning the issue of ethnocentrism. Therefore to create a cohesive as well as a productive environment ethnorelativism need to be introduced to identify the differences between the different cultures. Moreover, strategies of transforming individuals into more competent individuals in the society who can avoid this menace are necessary.


Bennett, M. J. (2004). Becoming interculturally competent. Toward multiculturalism: A reader in multicultural education, 2, 62-77.

Booth, K. (2014). Strategy and Ethnocentrism (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.

Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2016). Culture and psychology. Nelson Education.

Neuliep, J. W. (2017). Ethnocentrism. The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication, 1-5.

Rüsen, J. (2004). How to Overcome Ethnocentrism: Approaches to a Culture of Recognition by History in the Twenty‐First Century1. History and Theory, 43(4), 118-129.