Cultural Relativism: Rites Of Passage

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Cultural relativism is the understanding of other cultures in their own terms. To achieve the understanding of the rituals used in the cultures of another, one must be able to look at them from an emic (insider) perspective. One must also be able to look at his own culture from an etic (outsider) perspective. The ability to look at one’s culture from the etic point of view will make it easier to explain the rituals to someone from a different culture, for example, rites of passage. Rites of passage are used to mark a life stage and are celebrated by tradition or religion, meant to separate a specific group. These differ in every culture and some may even appear brutal or abusive to many outsiders, an example would be a Maasai warrior must kill a lion single handedly, tattoos and mutilation after a certain milestone in age. The ones that are more familiar to all would include the courtship, wedding or funeral. According to our text, “ceremonies such as christening, puberty rituals, marriage and funerals, which we hold whenever a member of society undergoes an important change status, within the lifecycle of the group, are considered rites of passage.” (Crapo, 2013 para. 2) Rites of passage are an important part of tradition that often symbolizes a transition from childhood to teenager to adulthood and they even give off a sense of manhood to their family as well as their community. This paper will dig into the rites of passage we call marriage in the American culture, from
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