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This paper uses the Chinese TV reality show “Where Are We Going, Dad” to discuss how the concept of ethnocentrism affects individuals and societies. The choice of parenting styles, holiday locations, and eating habits in this TV show serve as the basis for evaluating the influence of ethnocentrism. The effects of ethnocentrism noted from the cultural experience include profiling others in a negative light, perceiving others as inferior to us (pride), and contempt of outsiders.
Research is consistent that the concept of ethnocentrism has permitted social interactions and cultural group relations in contemporary contexts (Yoo, Jo, & Jung, 2014). Although the concept is known to have subconscious inclinations by virtue of the fact that most people perpetuate it without being consciously aware of its existence, there is widespread consensus that it affects social interactions between people from diverse cultures (Brewer & Yuki, 2007; Markwell & Johnson, 2012). The present paper defines ethnocentrism and uses a Chinese reality TV show to discuss how the concept affects people and communities.
Ethnocentrism has been defined as “the tendency of individuals to see their own cultural group as providing the norms for acceptable behaviors and preferences” (Yoo et al., 2014, p. 91). The concept relates to a subconscious inclination to reject out-groups that are culturally different from our own cultural orientation while blindly tolerating those that are aligned with our cultural values and preferences (Bizumic, Duckitt, Popadic, Dru, & Krauss, 2009).
Effects of Ethnocentrism
Aired on Hunan Satellite TV, the Chinese reality show “Where Are We Going, Dad?” revolves around the issue of how parents should socialize with their children and teach them some useful life skills (Yilin, 2015). The third season of the TV show provides one with a unique cultural experience about life in the Chinese context. For example, one gets to know about the preferred Chinese parenting style, eating habits, and choice of holiday sites.
Closer scrutiny reveals cultural predispositions that are not consistent with Western cultural values. For example, the five fathers in the cast use the authoritarian parenting style to control their children and enjoy camping in rain forests and rural villages. After watching the TV show, I developed a perception that our parenting styles and eating habits are better than the Chinese since we neither expose our children to authoritarian parenting nor eat using sticks.
I used a personal experience of a holiday destination I visited in Africa to reject the Chinese choice of camping since I had already developed a position that it is “cool” to visit animals in game parks than to camp in rain forests and rural villages. These aspects of ethnocentrism led to the profiling of the Chinese culture as inferior to our own way of doing things without necessarily considering the factors that may have led to the Chinese using authoritarian parenting style, eating with sticks, or camping in hostile places.
Based on these observations, it is clear that ethnocentrism makes one develop a negative attitude about other people’s culture and values systems without taking time to understand why they behave in a particular manner. At the broader level, ethnocentrism makes one profile a whole society as inferior merely because of a misalignment between own preferences and the predilection of other cultures. The thought of watching the families’ camp in rain forests triggered a certain superiority complex (pride) because this is not the standard in the American culture.
The last effect is that ethnocentrism affects our social behavior and relationships with others as demonstrated by the negative perceptions of the Chinese culture that were reinforced after watching the show. It is important to note that these perceptions and negative cultural experiences are based on ethnocentrism, rather than an objective analysis of the Chinese culture as depicted in the TV show (Maeder & Yamamoto, 2015).
Drawing from this discussion, it can be concluded that ethnocentrism has the capacity to affect our social relationships and perceptions of others due to the misplaced belief that we are culturally superior to others.
Bizumic, B., Duckitt, J., Popadic, D., Dru, V., & Krauss, S. (2009). A cross-cultural investigation into a reconceptualization of ethnocentrism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 871-899. Web.
Brewer, M., & Yuki, M. (2007). Culture and social identity. In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology (pp. 307-322). New York: Guilford Press.
Maeder, E.M., & Yamamoto, S. (2015). Culture in the courtroom: Ethnocentrism and juror decision-making. PLoS ONE, 10(9), 1-15. Web.
Markwell, D., & Johnson, O. (2012). Introduction to sociology. Schaumburg, IL: Words of Wisdom, LLC.
Yilin, F. (2015). “Where are we going, Dad”: A multiple case study of Chinese father’s parenting styles in the TV show. Web.
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Yoo, J.W., Jo, S., & Jung, J. (2014). The effects of television viewing, cultural proximity, and ethnocentrism on country image. Social Behavior and Personality, 42, 89-96. Web.