Cultural Relativism - Definition
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What is Cultural Relativism?
Cultural relativism concerns understanding and respecting foreign cultures. More specifically, is calls for a deeper understanding of people on the basis of their own cultural beliefs. Further, people should not be compared against or judged on the based upon the culture of others.
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A Little More on What is Cultural Relativism
The concept of cultural relativism was first described by Frank Boaz in 1887 as "civilization is not something absolute, but ... is relative, and ... our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes".
The term was first put into use within the Oxford English Dictionary by social theorist and philosopher Alain Locke in 1924 to define Robert Lowie's "extreme cultural relativism" as found in his 1917 book titled Culture and Ethnology.
Cultural relativism entails both specific methodological and epistemological claims. However, whether these claims encourage a particular ethical dimension is subject to further debate.
Academic Research on Cultural Relativism
- Cultural relativism; perspectives in cultural pluralism, Herskovits, M. J. (1972). This article is concerned with cultural relativism in situations where cultural pluralism exists and how the two can be harmonized so that they co-exist in such a society.
- Cultural relativism and universal human rights, Donnelly, J. (1984). Hum. Rts. Q., 6, 400. The paper talks about the link between universal human rights and cultural relativism. The author recognizes the fact different human beings have various cultures and should be given space to practice their cultures because it lies within their rights.
- Cultural relativism and the future of anthropology, Spiro, M. E. (1986). Cultural Anthropology, 1(3), 259-286. In this article, the writer is determined to establish how cultural relativism is linked to the future study of human customs in societies and their development.
- Man and his works; the science of cultural anthropology., Herskovits, M. J. (1949). This article is concerned with understanding the man in totality in terms of his works and cultural anthropology which cuts across various aspects of human cultures. The author in this work refers to different cultural features such as arts, language, religion, education, political systems, and education. The author comes up with different facts aimed at supporting the philosophy of cultural relativism. The survey involves using a list of theories of cultures that were derived from the past anthropological presentation of the societies.
- Cultural relativism and the visual turn, Jay, M. (2002). Journal of visual culture, 1(3), 267-278. This article is concerned with the general assumption that some cultural behaviors are relative to the customs from which they emanate. The paper is concerned with this premise by increasing pressure on the concepts of cultures as opposed to making a reference to the naturalists. From the theories of David McDougall, Regis Debray and Bruno Lantour, it claims visual experience brings problems to the notion that culture all the way down. The paper concludes that dwelling much in the aspect of visuality and basing them on incommensurability of traditions does not convince at all.
- Universalism and cultural relativism in social work ethics, Healy, L. M. (2007). International Social Work, 50(1), 11-26. As a result of an increase in a number of cultures and globalization, social workers have been facing difficulties of obeying those customs and at the same observing professional ethical standards. The author here investigates how the notions of cultural relativism and universalism are applicable when making some decisions during social work. Universalism takes precedence because it considers and respects all human rights and diversity.
- Defining the intolerable: Child work, global standards and cultural relativism, White, B. (1999). Childhood, 6(1), 133-144. The paper is concerned with intolerable pressures that have existed amongst relativistic' and universalistic' aspects in setting up requirements and plans meant for protecting the rights of children in the child work. Global requirements on children rights advocate for the universal perception of childhood while on the other hand cultural relativism claims that the perceptions of childhood have been as a result of social construction thus are specific to place, culture, nation and time. The article is determined to do away with child labour around the world.
- Cultural relativism,'good'governance and sustainable human development, Blunt, P. (1995). Public Administration and Development, 15(1), 1-9. The fall of colonial empires has resulted in the emergence of various cultures and imperialism of ideas attributed mostly with the western nations. The modern imperialism has been shown in activities like proper governance and sustainable human development (SHD) which are mostly targeted to third world countries by the rich nations. The author concludes that there is no best standard of implementing proper governance or sustainable human development and that universalism should always be given a chance in such situations.
- Cultural relativism and cultural imperialism in human rights law, Binder, G. (1999). Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev., 5, 211. This idea of "Universalism-Cultural Relativism" goes ahead to assume that international laws regarding human rights call for pointing out of basic principles of justice which cuts across politics, society, and culture. It claims that insisting on cultural relativity when dealing with justice puts doubt on the legitimate nature of international human rights laws. The imperialist criticism of laws on international human rights may be based on the belief that self-governance may not be tenable in third world countries. Thus, international governance of these communities seems inevitable whether people recognize it or not. The author concludes by considering how these laws on human rights can be utilized to make societies better and result in future self-governance.
- The challenge of cultural relativism, Rachels, J. (2007). Bioethics: an Introduction to the History, Methods, and Practice. The author in this article is concerned with the problems that arise as a result of cultural relativism. He claims that such challenges come about by virtue of people practicing various cultures in a different environment.
- Some criticisms of cultural relativism, Schmidt, P. F. (1955). The Journal of Philosophy, 52(25), 780-791. This article focuses on putting criticisms of cultural relativism. The author dwells into some negative impacts of cultural relativism the society at large.