Difference between ethnocentrism and racism

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Nov 18, 2009.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    What is the difference, by definition, between ethnocentrism and racism?

    While writing a post just now, I realised that ethnocentrism is more cultural than biological, however, in those groups where ethnocentrism is considered important as a form of social identity, there are also elements of biological identification [ie restrictions on admission to the group, marriage and group exclusivity]

    So whats the definition of ethnocentrism? And how is it different from racism?

    edit: could the moderator add the h in the title?

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  3. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    It's not a great task to check out what are the differences between those concepts using couple of reliable sources before you start a thread about them, "by definition"-wise...

    Each geography, Europe or Africa, America or Asia; each regime or historical incident has provided a different version of these atrocities; any "definitive" generalization attempt will necessarily ignore some of those individual versions.

    Actually, in practice, majority of examples, either within a country or between countries, the practices of both ideologies are intertwined, and they consume each others' discourses, share similar hateful emotions against the "other". Ethnocentric mentality limits their marriage union as an expected result of deep separation practices which can easily turn into racism; since racism doesn't always -or necessarily- have to be only "colour" orientated, nevertheless it appears as "dehumanising" and "demonising" the other side.
    And considerable amount of countries (India, Turkey, Britain, US, Balkans, Israel, Russia, and Somalia are just some among many) have also been consuming religion(s) and religious discourse in order to maximize the effects of hatred. So, no difference in terms of providing suitable environment for ordinary people to commit crimes against their own kind.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    So ethnocentrism = racism = ways of maintaining hatred?

    I think I'll wait for Fraggle's post
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The definitions of racism and ethnocentrism are virtually identical, with only the substitution of "ethnic group" for "race." It's the belief that one's own ethnic group is superior to others.

    "Race" is customarily defined a little more broadly. At its broadest, there are three human "races," the descendants of the tribes who stayed in Africa 50KYA ("negroid" in the jargon that is now generally avoided), and the two groups descended from the band who migrated out of Africa and split off into two populations ("caucasoid" and "mongoloid"). (It was recently discovered that the Native Australians are a fourth group whose ancestors left Africa ten thousand years before ours did, although they were members of the same tribe as our ancestors, the San or "Bushmen.")

    This distinction has lost what little validity it ever had. Since the domestication of riding animals, then the invention of the wheel, then massive sailing ships, then fossil fuel engines, then air travel, the gene pools of the various populations have been mixed to the point that if we were dogs, we would all be called "mongrels."

    Ideas travel faster than people so cultures have mixed even more thoroughly than DNA. To speak of the "culture of black people" or "of Oriental people" or "of white people" is even more ridiculous than speaking of their average IQ or aptitude for sports.

    For a person to believe that he is superior to everyone whose skin is a different color is prima facie evidence that he is a fool who does not deserve the energy and time it takes us to listen to him. That is racism.

    However, ethnic groups, which are much smaller populations, can and do have cultures that differ identifiably from one another. For a person to believe that his culture is superior to that of another ethnic group may make sense for that individual. For example I can find no way to respect a culture which teaches that companionship with dogs and enjoyment of music are evil.

    But for a person to believe that his culture is superior to all other cultures is ethnocentricity and puts him in the same category of fool as the racist. Particularly since there are so many different cultures, no one can possibly be familiar with all of them and be certain that none is worthy of his respect.

    Race is something we're born with, something no one can change about himself. But culture is something over which we have considerable choice, regardless of which one we're born into. This is why I prefer not to used labels like "black" and "white," because a "black" person will always be black, and if due to geopolitics he lives among other "black" people, so will his children. But if a person is "African," he can decide to embrace another culture--or even emigrate to it--and become something different.

    Racism is ridiculous. Ethnocentrism at least has a fragment of logic to it, but they're both despicable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  8. sniffy Banned Banned

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    Thread stealer!

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    Ethnocentrism is also a way of looking at something from a particular perspective. Slavery for instance from an ethnocentric point of view (ie from that of the enslaved) might look a little different to slavery from a slavers point of view.

    Just as in the aftermath of a war things might look a little different to the 'winners' and the 'losers'.

    All About Perspectives.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    We'll never know. History is always written by the winners.

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  10. sniffy Banned Banned

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    Indeed. Isn't it funny how history's 'winners' hate to see any deviation from their accepted and acceptable 'we were the heroes/they were the scum' line.

    (An aside: You will note that all sides claim to have God on their side..... See how multifaceted god is and how tactical our leaders are!)

    An ethnocentric perspective may provide an antidote to historical whitewashing. Those who have been erased from particular historys often have an interest in uncovering what they suspect to be true. So, for instance, the fact that soldiers from the former British 'colonies' as well as civilians living in those colonies played a huge part in both WWI and WWII.

    Similarly a large number of black and native american soldiers served in the US military, certainly in WWII. There are a number of organisations and individuals who don't like to acknowledge these facts. They are the same sort of organisations and individuals attempt to deny the holocaust. Funny co-incidence that.

    The efforts of women and gay people are underplayed in history also. I wonder why that might be? Well I don't wonder actually but you get the general drift off topic....

    So you see ethnocentrism isn't necessarily as despicable as it is sometimes portrayed. However, when ethnocentrism 'tips over' into racism then it simply becomes an excuse to denigrate other human beings on things such as skin colour. And that is despicable as we are all 'only human'.

    Causes and effects might be useful to examine....
     
  11. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    We have quite a bit of "slave narrative" to draw from.
     
  12. sniffy Banned Banned

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    When did all that turn up and get noticed?
     
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Good post sniffy, you made me reconsider how I saw the two. The minority report clearly requires identification with the lesser narrative and I can see how ethnocentrism would play a part.
     
  14. draqon Banned Banned

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    ethnocentrism is scientific name for racism.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No. Ethnocentrism also carries the meaning of analyzing the culture, behavior, etc., of members of another ethnic group using the paradigms of one's own ethnic group. In that sense it is not derogatory. It's quite reasonable to say that everyone, except the most cosmopolitan travelers and the most sophisticated scholars, regards the rest of the world from at least a partially ethnocentric viewpoint.

    The word "racism" has no such secondary meaning. It is the unqualified belief that one's own "race" is superior to all others. No matter how broadly (just three: "caucasoid," "negroid" and "mongoloid") or narrowly (Jews, Arabs, Slavs, Indic vs. Dravidian Indians, etc.) the word is defined.
     
  16. deicider got omnicidead Registered Senior Member

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    To put it bluntly:
    Racism is bout hating other races('colours').
    Nationalism is about 'Loving' ur country(excessively,and usually hating other countries).

    Ethnocentrism is bout people 'Loving'(excessively) either their culture,language,traditions...nation,race or some combos.

    What u need here is Racism vs Nationalism...Both are Ethnocentristic,hence the confusion.
     
  17. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    This is incorrect.
    A Nation is a collection of people, not a country of borders.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That's an archaic definition. It's generally only applied to peoples with premodern organization, for example an American Indian nation, or in portmanteau appellations such as The Nation of Islam.

    Otherwise the standard definition is the leader in Dictionary.com: "a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own."

    The second definition is: the territory those people inhabit; a country.
     
  19. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    It isn't archaic at all.
    It says right in your definition that it a "large body of people".
    A nation is the people of a country - not the country itself.

    If the population of a country experiences a diaspora, does the nation no longer exist?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  20. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    While using "nation" to mean the territory whence a people hail is a more modern interpretation of the term, the original meaning is still very much intact.
    I'd like to know when, and in what context, the more modern interpretation was used.
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The French Revolution gave the word "nation" its modern meaning in French, English and other languages. It's a political term, meaning the complete package of a people, a territory and a system of government.

    The word has older meanings, but it doesn't go too far back, having been introduced into Modern English from French only in the 16th century. Obviously it's of Latin origin, from nati, "born." Cf. native, innate, neonatal, etc. The Romans used it more or less as a synonym for "tribe," i.e., people born of common ancestry. They contrasted it with a community, a society in the post-tribal era comprised of people who live and work together but may be immigrants with no recent ancestors in common.
    Of course it doesn't, and that illustrates the definition. The Gypsies are a people, a tribe, a "race," but they are not a nation. A nation is a political entity, with citizens who are subject to its laws. The tens of millions of people of Chinese ancestry who have lived for generations in Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, the USA, and scores of other countries, who speak and read Chinese, eat Chinese food, follow Chinese customs, keep in touch with relatives in China, and even maintain a Chinese gene pool, are not part of the nation of China. In fact the ones who live next door to me are Americans.

    There was no Jewish nation until 1948, and even today, about half of the Jewish people on earth are not part of the nation of Israel.
    Not in popular language. As I said, some groups like the Black Muslims have appropriated the term and call themselves "the Nation of Islam," but they're playing with semantics just like the rock and roll band who call themselves "the Presidents of the United States."

    Even the Native Americans, who applied the earlier definition of "nation" to their tribes in the Colonial Era, of necessity adopted the modern attributes of the word in order to claim a semblance of political power. They have borders, laws, citizenship and elections.
    After the French Revolution. The 19th century onward. The French Revolution was considered by many (especially the French

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    ) as the culmination of the Enlightenment, which began early in the 18th century. Although our revolution happened a few years earlier, the French had a more academic and philosophical view of theirs--perhaps if they'd been more practically oriented like us, they would have built a more stable "nation" and Napoleon would not have been able to turn it back into a monarchy

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    . Anyway if you read up on the scholarship that surrounds the birth of the modern concept of nationhood, you'll probably run into more French philosophers than Americans, and a distinct French flavor to the philosophy that encompasses it. I'd recommend a nice Bordeaux with that.
     
  22. mugaliens Registered Member

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    Ethnocentrism is a focus on one's ethnic background. Racism is a denunciation of another's.
     
  23. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    That is a picture of Charles Manson. I know it is .
     

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