Essay by chronic9University, Bachelor'sA, August 2006

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This paper covers aspects of ethnocentrism and cultural relativity.

Ethnocentrism is the belief that one's own culture is superior to all others and is the standard by which all other cultures should be measured.

The perspective of structural functionalism drew its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim, Bronisław Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. Durkheim was concerned with the question how societies maintain internal stability and survive over time. From my understanding of this subject ethnocentrism is one of methods that keep the society "in line". If the poor are kept far away from the rich, the rich will think that the world is a great place, where everyone is happy and have everything they need.

The thoughts of conflict theory change this perspective. Conflict theory states that the society or organization functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits, which inevitably contributes to social change such as changes in politics and revolutions.

The French Revolution can be defined as a perfect example of conflict theory, the people were poor, hungry and dieing, while royalty were stuffing their faces with croissants and thinking of where to build their next summer palace. The theory attempts to refute functionalism. My example of the French Revolution satisfies 2 of the 4 primary assumptions of modern conflict theory. Number one would be competition, for scarce resources like sexual partners, oil and anything else that a society would need to survive. War would be number 4, since it either unifies a race to band together and defend their beliefs or might just be the annihilator of a race or population.

People act based on symbolic meanings they find within any given situation. We thus interact with the symbols, forming relationships around them. The goals of our interactions with one another...