Ethnocentrism believes that one group of people views other cultures through the lens of their society, which they consider to be perfect. Ethnocentrism is a prevalent feature that leads to the shaping of modern culture and civilization, which influences the external structures of institutions. This paper explains how ethnocentrism affects Australian society’s awareness by supporting traditional culture and values. Ethnocentrism is a tendency to view the world exclusively through the prism of personal experience. In both sociology and psychology, the ethnocentrism principle has proved to be critical in assessing the validity of biases. Ethnocentrism is very important in studying the communities in the world based on the shared history, customs, language as well as religion.
Ethnocentrism as Social Concept
The term can be defined within the framework of social identity theory. The social identity theory was initially coined by Taifel and Turner to probe the intergroup discrimination (Kinder and Kam 2010, 9). According to SIT, group membership leads to a development of interest of in-group favoritism. The extent of inclination is based on three primary variables: internalization of the group membership as self-concept; the length to which ethnocentrism or other contemporary social identity provide scope for group comparison; and the relevance of the comparison group as shaped by the social status. The fundamental framework of the theory is that although the sense of self can be connected with the social identities, only a small element is likely to influence a person in a given situation (Parts, and Vihalem 2011, 259 ). For instance, a person of a low social class tends to be less ethnocentric because the foreign goods are cheaper than the local products and thus traditional principles are abandoned in favor of the more attractive foreign style of life.
According to the theory, identity of a group is shaped at three stages of categorization, identification, and comparison. Classification serves the purpose of creating an understanding of the people and identifying them. For instance, in the Australian society, the people were categorized into the different ethnic groups. Each category has social beliefs, norms, and values through which identification and understanding of the social environment take place. Secondly, social identification helps in adopting the identity of a particular group, for instance, those who identified themselves, as aboriginals were mainly hunters and gatherers, and any member of that society had to ascribe to the values and norms of the group. The last stage is the social comparison where members of a given group try to make a comparison with the other communities. In Australia, this point is where the assimilation started after members of the European society had noticed that the Aboriginal group had cultures that were “retrogressive.” The stage is crucial to understand prejudice because it is the most likely source of ethnocentrism. Once people have identified themselves with parallel norms, then rivalry is expected to erupt as each category tries to retain its self-esteem and identity.
Ethnocentrism in the Australian Society
The concept has a great impact on the way knowledge of Australian society is formed. In order to understand the process, it is necessary to examine the root cause of this phenomenon. In Australia, the migrants were expected to become Australians up to until 1980’s, and such people were expected to adapt to the values and expectations of the natives. The system was referred to as the Aboriginal form of government. In the course of the 1980’s, more people came to Australia from different parts of the world including the Southern and Eastern parts of Europe but with a majority from Asia. Some of the leaders of the migrant tribes started developing that the assimilation process was “consuming” their original values and cultures hence could not be accepted anymore. However, from the perspective of the nationalist wing of the Australian political movement, this process was a way of encouraging multiculturalism. According to them, the assimilation process was a way of promoting and adding value to ethnic and cultural diversity.
The assimilation process led to the destruction of the ancient aboriginal culture that had existed in Australia for over 47,000 years (Juvan 2010, 54). Thirty years later, the government of Australia started initiatives to reverse any attempt of assimilation, and the process is ongoing to date. Recently, the state of Australia encouraged revitalization of the Aboriginal culture, by abolishing the laws of segregation. For instance, the protests that happened this summer when many people were seen across Australia manifesting against the closure of the Aboriginal communities in the Western Australia proves that ethnocentrism shapes political beliefs (Freeman 2015, 256).
Ethnocentrism is not an unfamiliar ordeal in Australia. Indeed, the issues concerning multiculturalism and culture are very sensitive in Australia due to the history of the country (Freeman 2015, 256). Ethnocentrism also explains why the immigration trends in Australia pose many challenges to the behavioral norms and the migration policies. The debates have caused a significant division between the elites and the more considerable proportion regarding the issue of ethnocentrism. The elites believe that the parochial nationalism is regarded as immoral and a barrier to the Australia engagement with the world. Also, the debates of the 1990’s on migration sparked a lot of division with those supporting immigration in large numbers making deliberate attempts to obstruct the public majority from participating directly in the discussion. Their primary concern was that barring immigration could lead to local prejudice against the domestic migrants (Segalàs, Tejedor, and Cebrián 2014, 315).
The native citizens of Australia tend to overlook the native manners of living as a result of the ideas of globalization (Kennedy 2014, 102) The concept can only be understood through the evaluation of the scenarios and circumstances and how the native people for many years adapted to their environment. Moreover, the idea helps in finding the ways to adjust to the Western approaches to understand the issue. One may assume that the Australians have improved ways of life that would ensure that it is more straightforward (Mobaraki 2013, 17). However, such practices have probably cost the world through self-exploitation of the Australians. In case an individual comprehends the society from this perspective, one can fully understand that native ways of living were conservative and considerate and therefore such people place their environment as the priority (Samiee, and Schabowski 2012, 365). Thus, it is clear that technological advancement and improvement brought by globalization has influenced knowledge in Australia more than ethnocentrism.
The psychological mechanisms of ethnocentrism involve assigning people of lower social status to various cultures that correspond to different values (Juvan 2010, 56). When assigning values or status to different cultures, the ethnocentric people believe that their lifestyles are intrinsically better than others. Ethnocentrism is a natural observation outcome within which many indigenous citizens in Australia see their cultures as more superior. With the globalization and modern civilization, it necessary to note that it is now essential to learn and appreciate the cultures of other people. Most of the citizens in Australia recognize that the world has become a global village. Many of the citizens of Australia today have learned the cultures of other people to promote them at international level. The Australian citizens have been flexible to different cultures and therefore have not resisted or refused the cultural trends and the new definitions because they view other cultural norms as more desirable, hence worth learning (Kinder and Kam 2010, 64). There is also a possibility that ethnocentric people may adopt new customs and repudiate their fundamental knowledge when they consider that the contemporary know-hows may be more important. Thus, the impact of ethnocentrism is rather low although it may sometimes express itself in political movements,
People must take into consideration the fact that their comprehension of the world is different as compared to this of native or indigenous people or of a particular nation or culture. Ethnocentrism has influenced knowledge-shaping in all societies, including Australia. Its principles of nation’s cultural priorities are most visible in politics. However, this influence is decreasing as more people in Australia are adopting new universal principles brought by globalization. The evolution of globalization may help in mitigating the ethnocentric ideas and concepts. As the entire globe becomes more linked, and individuals have a bigger access to information, there is a possibility of dispelling many cultural stereotypes and myths. Globalization and modern civilization helps in fostering a better universal comprehension of various functions and therefore formation of a modern society where people accommodate the knowledge of one another.
Chandrasen, A., Alexander, N. and Daryanto, A., 2016. Sojourner consumer behavior: the influence of nostalgia, ethnocentrism, cosmopolitanism and place attachment (Doctoral dissertation, Lancaster University) pp.20-27.
Freeman, G., 2015. Immigration and public opinion in liberal democracies. London: Routledge, pp. 255-259
Juvan, M., 2010. Peripherocentrisms: Geopolitics of Comparative Literatures between Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitanism. Histoire de la littérature et Jeux déchange entre centers et périphéries, pp.53-63.
Khan, S.R., and Khan, I.A., 2015. Understanding ethnicity and national culture: A theoretical perspective on knowledge management in the organization. Knowledge and Process Management, 22(1), pp.51-61.
Kennedy, M.D., 2014. Globalizing knowledge: Intellectuals, universities, and publics in transformation. Stanford University Press, pp 100-109
Kinder, D.R., and Kam, C.D., 2010. Us against them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American opinion. University of Chicago Press. Pp. 7-31
Mobaraki, M., 2013. Ethnicity and Ethnic Discrimination in Schools: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Ethnicity, 3(16), pp.17
Parts, O., Vida, I. and Vihalem, A., 2011. The Role of Cosmopolitanism in Consumer Ethnocentrism, Knowledge of Brand Origins and Foreign Purchase Behaviour. University-Business Cooperation-Tallinn 2011, 5, p.259.
Pentz, C.D., Terblanche, N.S., And Boshoff, C., 2014. Demographics and consumer ethnocentrism in a developing country context: A South African study. South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, 17(4), pp.412-426.
Segalàs, J., Tejedor, G., and Cebrián, G., 2014. (Re) Shaping knowledge, Sustainability Science’, pp.300-310