Essay On Ethnocentrism

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Norms are by definition general society guidelines and expectations of appropriate behavioral conduct in a particular environment or society. These guidelines could be formal and written such as laws that prohibit stealing or they could be implicit such as behavioral conduct or dress code. Every society has its own way of endorsing and enforcing certain norms and standards of proper behavior while renouncing and sanctioning improper behavior. In general, norms are of a significant importance because they guide our behavior and maintain order in society by providing conformity. Furthermore, norms render behavior predictable rather than random, thus allowing us to predict and understand other people’s actions and behaviors in different situations. On the other hand, divergence from norms is termed “deviance” and can lead to chaos and instability. It is noteworthy to mention, that the culture background and context play an important role as each culture processes its own norms, values, standards and expectations. For instance, in certain cultures shaking hands between opposite sexes is inappropriate, and this is the case in Yemen. Thus our perception of norms in different culture is critical: either we choose to understand an individual’s behavior according to his own culture context and set of norms (cultural relativity) or we choose to understand an individual’s behavior according to our own culture which we believe to be more superior (ethnocentrism). An example of ethnocentrism where norms and values of a certain culture have been imposed on another is the banning of the veil worn by muslim women in France. In contrast, cultural relativism appears in Lebanon where muslim women are perceived in terms of their own culture and are a... ... middle of paper ... ...us random behavior that challenges the norm such as nose picking in public can break this predictability and stability and chock or perhaps even offend some people who are not used to expecting such a behavior. Sanctions whether by law or by verbal reprimand and labeling appear to be necessary in order to reduce and discourage deviant behavior in a society. However, one of the limitations of my experiment was the inability to explore the link between norms and ethnocentrism as well as cultural relativism, and this is because all the participants in my experiment came from the same cultural and ethnic background. Thus it would be interesting in the future to conduct other experiments where there would be a mixture of cultures. Furthermore, it would also be interesting to see the power of breaking norms in order to produce change and evolution in a particular society.
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