Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is cultural relativism?

Ans: Human beings live in groups. Each group has its own way of life that we broadly term as culture. Members of group arrive at the way they conduct themselves through a continuous process of trial and error culminating of beliefs, values, mores and folkways. There is a very great need for unity and accord among the members of an in-group. Sumner also said that ethnocentrism is a characteristic of the in-group. Ethnocentrism according to him, “that view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything and other are scaled and rated with reference to it.” It is an assumption that the values, the way of life and the attitude of one’s own
group are superior to those of others. They are the only right ones, while those of the others are inferior and wrong. Thus, each culture functions in the context of its own experience and environment. This is ethnocentrism. For example, culture in which cross cousin marriage is a norm, tends to look down upon the cultural practice in which a cross cousin is equated with a sister and vice versa.
  Cultural relativism is the view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context. In other words, “right” and “wrong” are culture-specific; what is considered moral in one society may be considered immoral in another, and, since no universal standard of morality exists, no one has the right to judge another society’s customs.

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