Free Essay Example. Perspective and Cultural Relativism

Published: 2023-02-23
Free Essay Example. Perspective and Cultural Relativism
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Social psychology America Human behavior Community
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 594 words
5 min read

The concept of anthropology helps people to develop a sociological understanding, which aids them to reflect on the actions, beliefs, and behavior of other people in society. It is through the anthropological perspective that they understand cultural relativism, which is important in studying the etiological mythology of body rituals among the Nacirema. The article by Miner (1956), acme that a behavior found in undescribed tribe may not be found in all societies in the world, a point expressed by Murdock (1949:71) with respect to clan organization. This paper will, however, analyze and demonstrate the concept of perspective and cultural relativism using the Nacirema.

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The Nacirema are a group of people from North America. Miner (1956), states that "these people reside in the region between the Yaqui and the Tarahumara of Mexico, the Canadian Cree, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles". They are not broadly known but according to statistics they are believed to have originated by, Notgnihsaw, a cultural hero who had great feats of strength (Miner, 1956). These are people whose actions, behavior and beliefs can only be understood from a cultural point of view. In fact, they have magical beliefs and bizarre cultural practices that seem unusual. However, to them, these cultural practices are desirable and they describe them as the only group with extreme behavior practices among human species. The Nacirema's have a pathological horror and fascination, a condition that has a supernatural impact on human interactions.

In anthropological terms, the Nacirema believed that their human body and health had an influence in the cultural practices and beliefs. This was however, a concern to the ethos of many people (Miner, 1956). They believed that the human body was naturally weak and had a tendency to attract disease. With such concern they used their powerful cultural practices and rituals to perform ceremonies that prevented them from such conditions. Still, they had rites that made women breasts larger something that they used to make a living since they moved through villages permitting natives to have a glance at a fee. They also had shrines where they kept charms and magical potions. The charms and the magical packets were so powerful to the extent that people feared using them. At the same time, the medicine men used these charms to treat the sick patients and at many times they performed the rituals at the temple (Miner, 1956).

Through reading and discussing the perspective and cultural relativism, I have learned that there are people in some societies in the world whose beliefs, actions, and behavior can only be understood by looking at the culture from which they originate. For example, the Nacirema's cultural practices and beliefs about body rituals can only be understood through the study of their oral hygiene (Miner, 1956). They have strange cultural practices, which although they seem desirable to them, all supersede human behavior. The Nacirema believed that body rituals particularly rituals of the mouth could protect their gums from bleeding, their teeth from falling out hence help them maintain friends and relationships.

In conclusion, the Nacirema's beliefs that the human body is a cultural thing and not a natural one influenced their actions and behaviors. They implicated the human body with rituals and performances, something that served as a source of symbolism to their society. The combination of their behavior from the perspective and cultural relativism has not been found in other societies. This thus describes their behavior as extremes of all human behavior.


Miner, H. (1956). Body ritual among the Nacirema. American anthropologist, 58(3), 503-507. Retrieved from:

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