chapter  1
29 Pages

The Ethnocentric Basis of Social Science

WithJohn H. Stanfield

This chapter attempts to go beyond the impressionistic literature on the ethnocultural and hegemonic basis of social science knowledge production through illustrating ways the subject can be handled in a scholarly fashion. First, it offers a concise overview of what is meant by social science knowledge as culturally validated consensus and social science knowledge as ethnoculturally diverse ways of seeing and knowing. An in-depth analysis of the ethnocentrism of social science knowledge will be followed by a discussion of how ethnocultural biases in social science knowledge production can be minimized. In the history of sociological and anthropological thought, it has been customary to discuss the development of social knowledge types magic, theology, mysticism, science, technology in evolutionary terms. Ethnocentrism is the group-centeredness of human populations, whether classified as institutions, communities, societies, races, ethnic groups, or sexes. Ethnocentrism is characteristic of human populations: it creates the collective pride needed to legitimate biological and cultural reproduction, and gives cohesion to collective consciousness.