Cultural relativism is a perspective of anthropology that sees different cultures free from ethnocentrism , which is to say without judging the other based on their own vision and experience. Cultural relativism definition
The perspective of cultural relativism is a construction of Anthropology, idealized by names like Franz Boas, and also used in Sociology.
As a scientific concept, cultural relativism presupposes that the researcher has a neutral view on the set of habits, beliefs and behaviors that at first seem strange to him, which result in cultural shock.
An example of the application of cultural relativism in anthropological research can be seen in the study of traditional societies isolated from Western influences. Let’s say that in an Oceanian tribe, kinship relations are along the matriarchal line, and the mother’s brother, or uncle, plays the role that the father plays in Western societies.
In an ethnocentric way, the anthropologist could interpret these ties as misshapen and criticize in his work the possible social and family consequences of this action.
But when relativizing during his field work, the researcher realizes that these relationships are just different, as they have other systems and previous processes that need to be taken into account.
In order to carry out a scientific investigation, it is essential that researchers free themselves from prejudices and judgments, hence the practice of cultural relativism in Anthropology. However, the exercise of relativization can also be used by society as a whole, on a day-to-day basis, to better understand the position and behavior of others, and to establish better, more understanding social relationships. Cultural relativism definition
The concept of cultural relativism also involves understanding the idea of otherness , which is the presupposition of the existence of the other and of difference in society.
Difference between Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
The concept of cultural relativism can be considered the exact opposite of ethnocentrism .
The ethnocentric view places its own culture as a point of comparison with others. On the other hand, relativism will use culture shock to problematize the issue of right and wrong, trying to understand diversity and how it is manifested by different symbolic systems and practices of other societies. Cultural relativism definition