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Ethnocentrism Versus Cultural Relativism in American Scenario

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Ethnocentrism is a tricky subject. It is when a person believes they are better than another person, when in reality they are both humans, which means no one is better than anyone else. This belief is what creates a hostile environment in our country because many people believe they are allowed to do things because they are “better” than the person next to them, when in all reality, we are equal, or we should all be equal. If someone is walking down the street and they see someone homeless, the first thing someone usually think is they are disgusting, they don’t think to go up to them and ask if they want to go get food. This is an example of ethnocentrism because the person walking thinks they are superior to the homeless man. When in reality, they both have equal rights in this world.

Cultural Relativism is quite the opposite. This is the belief that everyone should accept every culture, whether they believe in what you believe or not. People should accept every culture because everyone is different. Not everyone is going to believe that ghosts are real, but that shouldn’t make them be treated any differently than someone who doesn’t believe ghosts are real. Cultural relativism represents the good in the world. It allows everyone to be accepted and feel ok believing in what they believe in, which should happen. If cultural relativism did not exist our world would be scary, because we would live in a world that was separated into groups, and those groups would never mingle. How is that a way to live? It’s not.

In this case ethnocentrism is indeed discussed here. Americans believed that Vanya Kalensen and Nils Wardlaw were in the wrong, because they themselves would never do that, which insinuates that American parents believed they were better than the Denmark parents. An American would view leaving your child outside as child abuse, something they would never dare to do. So, when they see a baby outside, alone it is alarming. American parents would believe that these parents should go to jail, because they themselves would never do that. But, in the end these parents got their child taken away for doing something they do everyday in their home country. Something that is totally okay to do but, because American parents thought they were superior to them, and what they were doing was wrong, they lost their child in the end. But, it could also be interpreted as the Denmark parents thinking they are better than Americans because they are doing the better thing by not bringing their baby into a restaurant that is dirty and is full of germs. But, no one views it that way because they automatically think the Americans are right in this scenario, which represents ethnocentrism.

Cultural relativism is also presented in this case. Vanya Kalensen and Nils Wardlaw were doing exactly what they would have done with their baby in Denmark. Everyone in Denmark leave their babies out in the cold, because they believe it is better for them. But, in America that same action is considered child abuse. Vanya and Nils believed that America would use cultural relativism and be okay with what they were doing even if they did not agree with it, because everyone lives their life differently, but that doesn’t mean one should be punished for living it that way. But, what they realized was they were not given that respect. Instead they were judged and punished for their action even though in another culture that action is completely normal. But, Americans didn’t care, which is quite the opposite of cultural relativism.

Growing up in a Jewish American family, my parents treated my brother and I differently than a lot of kids. My parents did not believe in physical abuse at all. I was never smacked, hit, or whipped. My mom did not believe in harsh punishment or abuse at all. If we did something wrong we just got something taken away, whether it was our phone or hanging out with friends that day. She believed that harsh punishment was going to make us rebel and do things even worse. The most punishment we ever got was our phones taken away. When I tell people this they don’t believe me, but it’s true. But, honestly I am so thankful that my parents raised me that way, it taught me that violence was never okay no matter what situation you are in, or what the person did. It allowed me to learn from my mistakes but not be beaten down from them. Food in our family was quite normal in the American way. My mother and I are quite picky when it comes to food. We don’t eat many think foods besides Italian and Mexican, and neither of us eats seafood either. My Brother and Dad were the complete opposite, they ate everything and loved trying new things, but we didn’t explore new foods often. We mainly ate steak, chicken and burgers. So, although we didn’t have new foods often, there were times where we would branch out of our comfort zone.

In regards, to religion, I grew up in a Jewish family. But, we weren’t super religious at all, in fact we never went to temple at all except for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. My parents believed that we should still celebrate the Jewish holidays but no their fullest extent and I was okay with that. I was able to learn the basics of my Jewish religion by going to a Jewish preschool. This allowed me to be introduced to the religion without it being too much to handle. After that it came time to decide if I wanted to be a bat mitzvah. My brother had done it previously because my dad wanted him too, but neither of us really felt the need to do it.So, I decided to forgo the bat mitzvah. So although I am to a “true” Jewish woman, I still celebrate the holidays and I am still Jewish. I feel by not being a full blown Jew allows me more freedom, and allows us as a family to celebrate the holidays in a way that is more fun, because it isn’t as serious as it would be otherwise. 

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Ethnocentrism Versus Cultural Relativism In American Scenario. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 26, 2021, from
“Ethnocentrism Versus Cultural Relativism In American Scenario.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
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