“Postville: when Culture Collide”: Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

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The “Postville: When Culture Collide” was a film about how different cultures merged and how people would act to such collision. Although the locals eventually accept the immigrants, they spent a long time in the process and had several bad approaches. A well translator who knew the two different cultures might help the community steadily lived through the huge culture shock at the beginning. “There is a hierarchy, with the dominant group having more say or power. Typically (not in all cases), members of the dominant group are mono-cultural; that is, beyond maybe knowing some isolated elements of another culture, they are familiar only with their own. Members of subcultures more often than not are bicultural, being familiar with the patterns of their own culture as well as with those of the dominant group.” This particular statement from the “Mini-Lecture 6: Culture” is connected to the film. Merely in the sense that the locals had a predetermined mind, which was the biggest issues of the local people when dealing with both Jewish and the Hispanic Immigrants. Misinterpretation and stereotyping gave the local people a huge culture shock which they never thought would happen to their town. The locals whom were the dominant group hypothetically had a difficult time to adjust not mainly because they were very stereotypical but also equally to the fact that they were only familiar with their own culture. According to Barkan, “Cultural relativism, the belief that no culture’s norms, values, or practices are superior or inferior to those of any other culture. refers to the belief that we should not judge any culture as superior or inferior to another culture. In this view, all cultures have their benefits and disadvantages, and we should not automatically assume that our own culture is better and “their” culture is worse. Ethnocentrism, the tendency to judge another culture by the standards of our own, and the belief that our own culture is superior to another culture., the opposite view, refers to the tendency to judge another culture by the standards of our own and to the belief that our own culture is indeed superior to another culture.” (2.4 Cultural Diversity) After knowing the definitions of the two nouns, one is able to see that such definition was quite noticeable in the film. The locals reacted in a negative way in the beginning when new culture, religion was brought into their community, a culture shock. Due to this shock, they reacted in a ethnocentrism perspective. Later, it is seen that the locals understand the new cultures after some unpleasant manners. In the end, the locals have the “cultural relativism” outlook. They learn not to automatically misunderstand or judge another individual and or group because of the differences.

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It’s quite an interesting fact that this film was made two decades ago, simply because of the fact that there was indeed more racial judgements back in the days. The patterns described in the film is something I can agree with that many people might have encountered including myself. I’m an American-Indian individual, though I have never truly witnessed in my experiences, I do believe such perceptions are created in a mind.

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"Postville: When Culture Collide": Ethnocentrism And Cultural Relativism. (2021, Apr 07). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from

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