In 1906, Sumner coined the term "ethnocentrism" describing cultural narrowness, rigidness and provincialism leading individuals to accept only those that are culturally alike (Ögretir & Özcelik, n.d.). Ethnocentrism, "a nearly universal syndrome of discriminatory attitudes and behaviors" means seeing one’s own group as superior, one’s own values as universal. Ethnocentrism is also defined as in-group favouritism while xenophobia refers to out-group hostility (Hammon & Axelrod, 2006). Patriotism is another construct related to it (Chen, 2010).
Freud's focus is slightly different. According to him, ethnocentrism is "the narcissism of minor differences" that facilitates the displacement of aggression from in-group to out-group. Quoting Freud (from Ögretir & Özcelik, n.d.):
"Every time two families become connected by a marriage, each of them thinks itself superior to or of better birth than the other. Of two neighboring towns each is the other’s most jealous rival; every little canton looks down upon the others with contempt. Closely related races keep one another at arm’s length: the South German cannot endure the North German, the Englishman casts every kind of aspersion upon the Scot, the Spaniard despises the Portuguese."
At its core, ethnocentrism means using one’s own group as the centre of viewing things (Chen, 2010), scaling and rating others with reference to one‘ s own group (Ögretir & Özcelik, n.d.). It is the perspective one takes. In other words, one’s own culture is the standard, "the rest" is "the deviating other". And "the other" is rarely judged neutrally.
Link to Neuliep and McCroskey's questionnaire to measure one's tendency to ethnocentrism: click
- Chen, G.-M. (2010) The Impact of Intercultural Sensitivity on Ethnocentrism and Intercultural Communication Apprehension. Intercultural Communication Studies XIX(1), 1-9
- Hammon, R. A. & Axelrod, R. (2006) The Evolution of Ethnocentrism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6), 926-936
- Ögretir, A. D. & Özcelik, S. (n.y.) The Study of Ethnocentrism, Stereotype and Prejudice: Psycho-Analytical and Psycho-Dynamic Theories. Journal of Qafqaz University, 236-244
- first and last photographs by Aleksandr Malin via and via, Mick Jagger's photograph by Cecil Beaton via