University of Houston Cultural Practices and Ethnocentric Interpretation Discussion

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Culture and its mandates regarding what is considered “normal” are very important in society. However, culture and cultural patterns differ over time and between different places (towns, states, countries). 

We look at the differences between cultures in two ways, one involves seeing and interpreting the world through our own cultural lens—evaluating other cultures in terms of our own norms, values, beliefs, etc. The other way requires that people suspend their own cultural patterns and view other cultures by considering the unique elements specific to other cultures.

This assignment is designed to help you develop an understanding of how an ethnocentric view of behavior differs from a culturally relative view. 


Write your responses in a separate document and upload them to the link in the assignment folder.

Write in full sentences and do not include the questions in your submission.

Cite the sources you choose to define ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.

Provide an ASA formatted reference page.

First, read the following passage:

On October 23, 2014, about 20 activists whom police said belonged to the youth wing of India’s ruling, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) barged into a cafe in Kozhikode, a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The men smashed windows, overturned chairs, and destroyed a television. The cafe, in their view, was facilitating “immoral activities”: specifically, couples holding hands and kissing.

And young Indians have been divided in their response to the incident. The attack, which was caught on film, brought urban students across the country into the streets to stage what have been dubbed “Kiss of Love” protests. Demonstrators have gathered to openly kiss, caress, hug, and otherwise show affection from the city of Kochi in the south to New Delhi in the north, with the explicit aim of challenging the “moral police.” At the same time, student organizations across the political spectrum have spoken out against the protests as contrary to Indian values, and counter-protesters have shouted slogans against Western influence as embodied, for example, in public displays of affection.

Second, read the following:

The topic we consider in this assignment is the contrasting views that Indian citizens express about public displays of affection. We are looking at “Kiss of Love” counter-protestors and thinking about their claim that public displays of affection are a social problem.

For this assignment, students should consider two different viewpoints regarding the protests against public displays of affection in India. You are to analyze the group of Indian citizens who believe that kissing and showing romantic affection in public is morally wrong. You will write about two possible interpretations (ethnocentric and culturally relative) of the actions of those who openly reject the idea of public intimacy and protest against public displays of affection in India.

Address following:

1. Define ethnocentrism (cite your source).

2. Define cultural relativism (cite your source).

3. In two paragraphs, write an ethnocentric interpretation of the counter-protestors actions in rejecting public displays of affection in India (i.e., breaking into the coffee shop and demonstrating against the “Kiss of Love” protests).

4. In two paragraphs, write a culturally relative interpretation of these same protestor’s actions (i.e., breaking into the coffee shop and demonstrating against the “Kiss of Love” protests).

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