Cultural relativity does possess problems, as if we apply it politically, not just sociologically, we have to accept any form of behaviour as acceptable as long as it conforms to the cultural expectation of the society in which it takes place. From this we can see that there are limits to cultural relativity as all cultures have different views such as in Africa men are being circumcised so that they have a less chance of getting aids but in America a group is lobbying against this move to circumcise men.Order now
Cultural relativity is an important principle in anthropology since anthropology is the study of human beings in all places and at all times, anthropologists have to understand societies on their own terms and have to avoid making value judgements. Anthropology seeks to produce useful generalization about people and their behaviour and arrive at an unbiased understanding of human diversity. Keesing has defined a society as ‘a population marked by relative separation from surrounding populations and a distinctive culture’.
A fundamental belief of anthropologists is that learned behaviour, culture plays a vital role in human life. Anthropologists learn about other societies and cultures through fieldwork and participant observation another method used is the ethnographic approach. This involves the study of small-scale societies or relatively small groups of people in order to understand how they view the world and organise their daily lives. An example of an ethnographic case study is heart distress in Maragheh, Iran this heart distress is more frequent in Iranian women and it expresses the problems they are having in their lives.
It is a self-labelled folk illness that expresses a wide range of physical, psychological, and social problems at the same time. Ethnocentric is ‘an adjective describing the condition of viewing and judging (often in pejorative terms) other cultures and societies according to the (usually-taken-for-granted) assumptions of one’s own society’. By way of contrast, anthropology is concerned not only to highlight our assumptions but also to show that other cultures and societies are different to our own, but not worse or better.
Ethnography can be best understood by examining the theoretical assumptions, which underlie it. Blummer (1969) has stated’ the concepts of culture as acquired knowledge has much in common with symbolic interactions, a theory that seeks to explain human terms of meaning’. To conclude anthropology is a subject, which has many benefits in the study of human culture, anthropologists have learnt to treat all cultures equally and not have a biased view; furthermore they have learnt how different cultures treat different illnesses such as herbal healers and magic men treating the ill in Nepal.