What is cultural relativism, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
The term cultural relativism is usually applied to an anthropological concept which states that any person’s actions, behaviour and beliefs should be seen in the context of his local culture. Anything which is considered “good” is usually “socially approved” in a certain culture. Morality is based on the social norms of the culture. There are no objective values that apply to every culture. Franz Boas, popularly known as the father of Anthropology initially proposed this idea. However, the actual term was coined after his death.
Cultural relativism discusses that no culture should be judged as good or bad. With this in mind, one can be truly neutral while studying different cultures. For example, cannibals in African tribes cannot be judged for their violent acts because they acted the way they acted because of their unique situation, environment and culture around them. The biggest advantage of this concept is that it promotes tolerance and acceptance. People become more sensitive towards other people and cultures. No culture is considered superior.
Also, with this view in mind, people are less likely to impose their own views on others different from them. On the other hand, cultural relativism allows anything and everything as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. It rejects the idea of universal good and bad. If every culture is perfect in its own way, then how can we expect ourselves and human being in general to get better? Both cultural superiority or cultural relativism are two extremes. A middle ground between the two contrasting concepts must be found. This middle ground is often referred to as cross-cultural sensitivity.Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com