Why is ethnocentrism bad?

Ethnocentrism leads us to make false assumptions about cultural differences. We are ethnocentric when we use our cultural norms to make generalizations about other peoples' cultures and customs. Such generalizations -- often made without a conscious awareness that we've used our culture as a universal yardstick -- can be way off base and cause us to misjudge other peoples. Ethnocentrism can lead to cultural misinterpretation and it often distorts communication between human beings.

Ethnocentric thinking causes us to make wrong assumptions about other people because . . .

Ethnocentrism leads us to make premature judgments.

"They" may not be very good at what we are best at.

By evaluating "them" by what we are best at, we miss the many other aspects of life that they often handle more competently than we do.

Some very simple examples of ethnocentric thinking. . .

We often talk about British drivers driving "on the wrong side" of the road. Why not just say "opposite side" or even "left hand side"?

We talk about written Hebrew as reading "backward." Why not just say "from right to left" or "in the opposite direction from English."

We encourage SNU students going on short-term missions to use the phrase "Oh, that's different" rather than more pejorative terms when encountering strange customs or foods.

Xenocentrism

The opposite of ethnocentrism is xenocentrism which means preferring ideas and things from other cultures over ideas and things from your own culture. At the heart of xenocentrism is an assumption that other cultures are superior to your own.

LinksLinks to other Internet information on ethnocentrism

Describing a lightbulb

Click hereThere's more than one way to describe a lightbulb. What you call it depends on your point of view. [ read more ]

SNU missions course materials and syllabi

Cultural Anthropology    Introduction to Missions    Linguistics    Mexican Field Studies    Missions Strategies    Modern Missionary Movement (History of Missions)    Nazarene Missions    Church Growth and Christian Missions    Theology of Missions    Traditional Religions    World Religions
 
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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658
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