Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethnocentrism in Sociology

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:03 -- Umar Farooq

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethnocentrism

An ethnocentric attitude may be advantageous for certain groups, but at the same time it may be having disadvantages for the opponents. For instance, Sunnies and Shias among Muslims and Protestants and Catholics among Christians are ethnocentric in respect of their sects. Thus, it would place these sects in an advantageous position, i.e, to have solidarity in their groups and maintain status quo. Members of the sects do not regard this ethnocentrism harmful for them as they want to propagate their own faith and win the majority. However, ignoring these issues in a particular sense following are the advantages and disadvantages of ethnocentrism.

Advantages of Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism eliminates criticism of the social order. If people are made to understand that democracy is zone of the best political system for our country. There is every possibility that people may not bother to think about other political system, or to criticize the prevailing order. In the same way, caste system in Indo­ Pakistan sub-continent has been existing for centuries only due to the reason that people were so taught and socialized and they were made ethnocentric in such a way that any democratic attitude in this sphere was considered a great sin.

Devotion to Society. National solidarity and devotion to one's society can only be possible if its members maintain ethnocentrism, i.e., to think that they are right. Patriotic spirit can be changed by creating and maintaining the spirit of ethnocentrism.

Solidarity within Society Enhanced through Ethnocentrism. If ethnocentrism is taught on uniform lines within a society it enhances solidarity within society and decreases minor or major sectarian, class, or racial frictions or conflicts. Thus, planned ethnocentrism saves society from disintegration to a large extent. It helps in bringing progress to a nation.

It should not be taken for granted that ethnocentrism is always harmful for the individual and societies. This type of thinking would present one sided picture of the reality. Ethnocentrism also performs certain positive functions for individuals, groups and societies.

The ethnocentric persons do not bother much about other cultures and societies and thus lead a life of their own. There is contentment and unity of thought and action. People remain loyal to their own culture, group and society and, thus, can bring more solidarity and inter­group co-operation.

An average man finds ready-made solutions of the problems confronted by him in different social situations of his daily life. 'Ethnocentrism encourages Patriotism and loyalty to one's own society and culture. At the time of war and other abnormal conditions people are ready to work hard to save their society or culture. Furthermore, the problems of a marginal man are not to be faced by the population if the people remain loyal to their own society, culture and group.

Disadvantages of Ethnocentrism

It should be taken into consideration that advantages and disadvantages of ethnocentrism are relative.

Obstructs Intercultural Relations. Societies and groups can flourish through co-existence. If one group develops ethnocentric attitude towards the other group, then inter-cultural relations cannot be maintained smoothly.

Prolongs or Hinders Assimilation. Assimilation is a process of fusion through which individuals and groups acquire the cultural patterns, attitudes and ideas of other groups or individuals. Thus, the process of assimilation can be prolonged due to ethnocentrism.

Ethnocentrism blocks the road to growth of human knowledge, acculturation, assimilation, dissemination of religious teachings and mutual co-operation. The unity and integration of different societies become difficult. One the other hand, proper understanding of different cultures, societies and average personalities become difficult due to ethnocentric attitudes prevailing among different cultures.

The outcome of ethnocentrism can be seen in the shape of race and ethnic problems in almost every country even among the so called civilized and advanced nations. It has become one of the major social problems among the Western societies.

Ethnocentrism brings frustration and restlessness among the people of different groups, castes and classes in such a way that they waste most of their energies, time and resources in. unhealthy activities