Definition of Ethnocentrism
(noun) The tendency to view your own society or culture as superior and the standard by which other societies and cultures are judged.
Examples of Ethnocentrism
- Someone from the United States thinking that all people around the work practice Thanksgiving.
- The idea that democracy is the best political system.
- American English – /eth-noh-sEn-triz-uhm/
- British English – /eth-noh-sEn-tri-zuhm/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˌɛθnoʊˈsɛnˌtrɪz(ə)m/
- British English – /ˌɛθnə(ʊ)ˈsɛntrɪz(ə)m/
- Term coined (along with folkways, in-group, mores, and out-group) by William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) in Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals (1906).
- Ethnocentrism can be positive or negative, an example of positive ethnocentrism is civic pride, and an example of negative ethnocentrism is belittling non-conforming minority groups.
- A type of bias.
- Type: naive realism
- Also called ethnocentricity.
- An (noun) ethnocentrist (adverb) ethnocentrically views the world from an (adjective) ethnocentric perspective.
- “Cultures do not generally remain static. There are many forces working toward change and diversity. Some societies and individuals adapt to this change whereas others suffer culture shock and succumb to ethnocentrism” (Kendall 2006:57).
- “Empirical evidence suggests that a predisposition to favor in-groups can be easily triggered by even arbitrary group distinctions and that preferential cooperation within groups occurs even when it is individually costly” (Hammond and Axelrod 2006:926).
- “Ethnocentrism is a nearly universal syndrome of attitudes and behaviors, typically including in-group favoritism” (Hammond and Axelrod 2006:926).
- “Ethnocentrism is one of sociology’s distinctive concepts. Comprehension of this concept is a major step in the acquisition of a sociological outlook. Students of introductory sociology are often left, at the end of the course, with a feeling that the term “ethnocentrism” denotes a flaw in human nature. Some of them may also be persuaded that their exposure to academic sociology has helped to immunize them against this natural but supposedly lamentable tendency to react ethnocentrically to people in other societies” (Catton 1960:201).
- “[Ethnocentrism] reflects our tendency to judge other people’s beliefs and behavior using values of our own native culture” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:5).
- Word origin of “ethnocentric” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Benson, Phil. 2001. Ethnocentrism and the English Dictionary. London: Routledge.
- Berreby, David. 2005. Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. New York: Little, Brown.
- Forbes, Hugh Donald. 1985. Nationalism, Ethnocentrism, and Personality: Social Science and Critical Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.
- LeVine, Robert, and Donald Thomas Campbell. 1972. Ethnocentrism: Theories of Conflict, Ethnic Attitudes, and Group Behavior. New York: Wiley.
- Ore, Tracy E. 2014. The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Rutherford, Jonathan, ed. 1990. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference. London: Lawrence and Wishart.
Catton, William R. 1960. “The Functions and Dysfunctions of Ethnocentrism: A Theory.” Social Problems 8(3):201–11. doi:10.2307/798910.
Hammond, Ross A., and Robert Axelrod. 2006. “The Evolution of Ethnocentrism.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution: a Quarterly for Research Related to War and Peace 50(6):926–36. doi:10.1177/0022002706293470.
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Cite the Definition of Ethnocentrism
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ethnocentrism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 1, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnocentrism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
ethnocentrism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnocentrism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ethnocentrism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnocentrism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“ethnocentrism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnocentrism/>.