The term “Ethnocentrism” was first proposed by William Sumner in his work “Folkways” in 1906. Ethnocentrism is a psychological phenomenon, which means a tendency to perceive all phenomena of life from the perspective of your own ethnic group that are regarded as a standard, that is, when it always prevails over others.
Thus, in this paper we are going to examine and discuss such a term as “ethnocentrism” and how it has or has not changed over time.
Ethnocentrism is a tendency to judge behaviors of other groups by the standards of own culture; a feature of ethnic identity to perceive and evaluate all phenomena of the world through the prism of the traditions and values of own ethnic group.
Furthermore, the concept of “ethnocentrism” is related to both positive effects, such as patriotism and national dignity, and to negative ones, such as discrimination, nationalism, chauvinism, segregation. In addition, ethnocentrism can be defined as a universal meaning of discriminatory behaviors and attitudes. Levine and Campbell (1972) stated that “the attitudes include seeing one’s own group (the in-group) as virtuous and superior, one’s own standards of value as universal, and out-groups as contemptible and inferior.”
Some empirical data show that the relations between people of different ethnic groups may be in the nature of mutual tolerance and respect for the continuing trend to be more favored to own group. In this regard, the meaning of “ethnocentrism” has significantly changed. Nowadays, it is less used to refer to prejudice and negativism in regards to alien ethnic groups and, unlike a term “ethno-egoism” is considered to be primarily as a trend of preference of their ethnic groups and their representatives in comparison with other groups. Consequently, ethnocentric views have changed over time because people began to more respect traditions and cultures of other nations.
In conclusion, it is possible to draw a conclusion that despite the fact that ethnocentrism is considered to be a negative concept, it is a normal part of everyday psychological functioning. Thus, ethnocentrism plays an important role and function, helping to unite societies and different cultures. A more serious question concerns how we can be more flexible to use “our ethnocentrism” towards others.
Hammond, R. A., & Axelrod, R. (2006). “The Evolution of Ethnocentrism.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50 (6), 926–936.
Levine, R. A., & Campbell, D. T. (1972). Ethnocentricism: theories of conflict, ethnic attitudes and group behavior. New York: Wiley.