Understanding Other Cultures: Part 2

Red building showing Asian architecture

So, in the last blog post, you learned how looking at the whole situation is helpful when studying other cultures. (If you missed that post, just click here to read it.) 

Here’s how Anthropologists understand other cultures:

1. Holistic perspective (Anthropologists look at the whole situation)

Holistic Perspective: to understand a part of a culture, consider the whole culture.

2. Comparative perspective (Anthropologists compare different cultures)

Comparative Perspective: test new ideas about humanity against lots of different cultures.

3. Cultural relativism perspective (Anthropologists don’t think that one culture is “better” than the other, there are just different ways of doing things)

Cultural Relativism: no culture is superior or inferior to another culture.

If you don’t believe in cultural relativism, and instead you think your culture’s way of doing things is the ONLY way of doing things and the only RIGHT way to do things, then you are called ethnocentric. Anthropologists try NOT to be ethnocentric and instead view cultures more objectively.

Ethnocentric: thinking your own culture is better than another culture

So, these are the perspectives that Anthropologists take and don’t take when studying other cultures.

Thanks for reading!