Cultural Relativism

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Cultural relativism

Cultural relativism is the concept of viewing the values, beliefs and traditional practices of a particular culture from the perspective of that culture itself. This concept originated in the 20th century through the work of Franz Boas, and has had a strong influence on the social sciences (Taylor, 1992). Cultural relativism also refers to the issue of the values and expected occurrences of one social system not being so valued in another social system. Although Cultural relativism relates to moral relativism, there is a distinction between the two concepts, as morality is quite relative to cultural standards.

The relevance and importance of this concept cannot be denied, because if people we to become more aware of this concept, then there will be less tendency to display arrogance or blindness to other societies and we will also be less rigid in our evaluations and less rigid to the idea of making positive changes in our own society. One example of the need for cultural relativism is its application in the sweep of cultures that exist in connection with most sub-species, and which cannot be seen as a normal relationship between race and culture because of the vastness of the various cultures. The concept of Cultural relativism also has to do with some specific methodological and epistemological claims that must not be mistaken for issues of moral relativism. It has been noted that the epistemological claims which resulted in further development of cultural relativism can be traced back to the German Enlightenment (Wright, 1998).

In some instances, Cultural relativism has been successfully employed as a methodological tool. During the period between the first and Second World War, cultural relativism was used by American anthropologists as the main tool for salvaging non-Western cultures, and for refusing the West’s claims to universality.

Cultural relativism is sometimes applied in the research process to curb the...