In sociology this semester we have covered a variety of topics, but the two main topics that I found to be recurring themes in this course were ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view one’s own culture as superior to others. Ethnocentrism is a universal concept and it has its positive and negative functions. Cultural relativism is the appreciation that all cultures have intrinsic worth and should be evaluated and understood on their own terms. Cultural relativism is trying to demonstrate to us that we need to overcome and rise above ethnocentrism.
After learning about the topic of ethnocentrism in great detail, I have realized that I have been ethnocentric all this time. I have always viewed my own culture as amazing and irreplaceable and the other cultures just as unique but not as interesting. After taking sociology I have come to learn that I had a false sense of superiority and invincibility. When someone is apart of a particular culture than they have a need to have group loyalty and pride, and this is not wrong. One should always stand up for what they believe in, but when we start to discriminate and hate against other ethnicities then we need to learn how to become more cultural relative. That’s the difference between cultural pride and cultural superiority. Cultural pride is okay because everyone has the right to be ethnocentric to some degree, but cultural superiority is not okay. Culture is just one very small factor that makes us humans different from each other.
When I think of someone being ethnocentric, then I think of that person discriminating and being prejudiced against someone else’s race. This course has taught me that there is no such thing as race. Race and racism is just a human created belief, a social construction that many people have come to accept and believe. But we need to overcome race and racism. For example, in a class discussion we were asked to discuss racism levels in Canada and the USA, and many people said that the USA is more racist than Canada. We all have a preconceived notion about a particular place and people and when we start to apply our opinions without doing our research then we may become extremely ethnocentric. I personally believe that there is no way to measure the racism in a country, every country has certain racist people and places but that does not determine whether or not the whole country is racist because in my view it will take a very long time for any country to finally achieve a race free place.
In the duration of this course, I have realized that sometimes our opinions and beliefs can offend someone significantly. What we perceive as cultural pride can be seen as being ethnocentric. “Ethnocentrism hinders interpersonal communication because it prevents us from understanding others (14 Social Structures and Processes)”. If we cannot see past our own culture then we will not gain knowledge about other cultures and their style of living. Some of us need to start to willingly accept everyone, looking past the cultural differences.
I agree with Raman because I too think that rules and regulations that prevent the LGBT community from living life like every other human should be non-existent. We are all humans and if a person has decided to live as a gay, lesbian or transgender than we should accept their decision and not discriminate against it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so when religious groups or certain people think that the LGBT’s style of living is wrong, they have a right to say that, but when their opinions start to interfere with who should get a job or whether or not someone should be allowed to obtain housing is not right. I think some people need to open up to the fact that the world is changing and liking someone of the same gender or switching your gender should not be seen as a crime.
I agree with Amanada’s blog about how human trafficking has not only become a problem in Canada, but it’s a major problem in the third world countries. Human traffickers look for the most vulnerable and easily manipulated individuals that they can persuade to work for them. Amanda mentions the ‘bait and switch’ scheme which is the luring of people to work for the traffickers by thinking that they will provide them with money and a visa to go to a new place, but the reality is that traffickers only want to use them for forced labor, military, mining, prostitution, or sex slavery. In third world countries especially there needs to be stricter laws so human trafficking does not go unforeseen. The world needs more groups like “UNODC” and the “NGO” to stop human trafficking and to support the individuals who were victims to it.
I don’t think we can determine whether Canada or the USA is more racist than the other. Both places have certain areas that may be more racist than the other. It would be ethnocentric of someone to say that Canada is a place that is racism free because everyone likes to believe that their culture is better than other cultures, but the way someone shows their ethnocentrism can really affect how we will be portrayed as a country.
By: Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade
Paraphrastic Reading Method
The main focus of this video was to discuss the concept of social construction and why it’s an important idea to understand. Social construction refers to the way we create meaning through social interaction with others. The video goes into depth about explaining how our language, symbols, colors, food, gestures and people are socially constructed. Language is a system of sounds that we associate to pictures, symbols or meanings. Symbols are something that have a deeper meaning or stand for something else, for example flags, logos, etc. Colors are often related to certain emotions or genders, for example in Canada we usually associate the color pink for girls and the color blue for boys. We consider food such as eggs and toast as ‘breakfast foods,’ but this may not be the case for other countries around the world. Our body gestures such as the thumbs up sign or the middle finger may be understood by all Canadians; however people from other parts of the world may or may not understand these gestures. We create categories, ideas and stereotypes about what and how people behave or act. Social constructions are important for the functioning of society because they allow us to set our beliefs about certain things, places or people. We are the ones that create social constructions and we can also add or change them when we want to.
Video Segment – 6:53-7:11
Social constructions matter because they’re collectively held beliefs. Collectively held beliefs are those thoughts and opinions that have been shaped and constructed by the majority groups and we all seem to agree on there meaning. Once they’ve been collectively adapted, social constructions can become hard to change or replace.
I choose this segment to paraphrase because I believe that it captures the meaning behind social constructions and as to why they happen. It also determines who decides and creates these specific social constructions and how once they become a part of the majorities’ lives they can be hard to change or get rid of.
I agree with Taylor’s response about terrorism and how it affects societies and individuals as a whole. Terrorism is a threat to society and these acts are committed by terrorist who are individuals that are steered in the wrong direction. Terrorism is categorized into several groups, often people enact terrorist acts to feel as if they have a sense of power, sometimes it’s a random attack, or it may even be an attack towards a dictatorship they may not like. No matter what the reason for the terrorist act may be, these acts are wrong in each and every way. The biggest terrorist act that I have experienced on television was 9/11. 9/11 was a planned attack that took the lives of many innocents, but this attack put a lot of questions into play such as whether if America itself had something to do with the attack and American citizens questioned the security that government should have been providing them with.
The social justice event that I decided to attend was called the Ghana Field School Students Colloquium that took part on November 10th. During this event I listened to a young female and a group of nursing students speak about their journey to Ghana. The purpose of this event was to allow students, teachers and parents to see the opportunities that are presented to you by going on a trip to Ghana. Ghana is definitely a place of great inspiration and the people there are described as living life to its full potential. This event was enlightening because I learnt a lot about the Ghana culture and the Ghanaians personalities.
The differences between Canada and Ghana have seemed to amaze me. One major difference that most of the nursing students mentioned was time. In Ghana people don’t have the need to constantly be watching the clock, they take their time. When they are going somewhere they stop to greet everyone they pass, here in BC if we were to do that most people will just look at us awkwardly. In fact one of the nursing students said that if people see you going somewhere in a rush, they’ll probably end up laughing at you, however here in Canada all we do here is look at the clock; when will we get to leave class, when will my shift at work end, or do I have enough time to get to this certain place?
Ghanaians are people that want to learn and show a great willingness to learn. The nursing students described how the health care program there is in need of improvement, nurses their often tend to use the same needles on patients over and over again. This goes to show that we should be extremely thankful for the free health care program that our government has provided us with. The nursing students also explained the friendliness and openness they felt when entering into the villages in Ghana. They described their experience saying “they felt just at home,” this is a representation of how welcoming the people there are.
Children in Ghana strive for an education and they take full advantage of any opportunities they are given, yet here in Canada most children don’t have to pay for their education but they still don’t use the knowledge that they are being presented to, to its full potential. The young female talked about how children in Ghana not only strive for an education but are amazed to see the different types of technology that we use on a daily basis. She described how the Ghanaian children were so amazed to see something like Google and by showing them something just as simple as the internet she felt as if she was able to give them a piece of our world.
After attending this social justice event I feel as if my judgements and opinions about Ghana were totally wrong. I always looked it at like a place where mostly poverty had existed, however after hearing the Kwantlen students talk about their experience I feel that maybe they’re just better off than us, they seem to be united and one, accepting and welcoming. In Ghana it seems like the little things matter to the Ghanaians, the things that we often seem to forget about, or to be thankful for, maybe we should be ones picking up a few tips from the Ghanaians.