Misconceptions and Ethnocentric Beliefs about Western and Eastern Nations

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Human contact has been facilitated so much by technical advancements and the lowering of regional barriers that it is normal to see people moving and settling in foreign countries. The effect is generally a blending of cultures, because whether anyone has a greater understanding of what other diverse beliefs believe in and the ideals that are prevalent in the foreign countries, they may have difficulty adapting to those in the different environments. Interestingly, it has been noted that in an attempt to appreciate others’ culture, there is a high chance that one would draw misconceptions based on what they read from the media and sometimes based on their own understandings. Two cultures that contrast each other in many aspects are the western and the eastern world cultures with observers developing assumptions based on how they perceive each. As an ethnographer, therefore, it is important to develop the ability to shift from one to the next with ease to be able to appreciate each side (Leeward Community College 2016). The seeks to examine the pattern of cultural relativism and misconceptions by taking etic and emic viewpoints. Through the etic perspective the paper seeks to describe the misconceptions that the Arabian cultures have about the West and by taking the emic perspective the paper will describe the way Americans perceive the Arabia and Eastern cultures.

The Etic – How the Arabs think of Americans

America is arguable the one of the greatest nations in the world and as a result, we have been on the spotlight to the rest of the world. Interestingly, the Arabian nations, just as many other cultures, have developed misleading misconceptions that have ended up shaping how they perceive us. One major issue that the Arabs think characterize Americans is that we are ignorant and that we do not have what it takes to appreciate the world from the boundaries of the US. The primary source of data that leads to such misconceptions are videos and the media. Other perspectives that are likely to have resulted in the outside world developing such ideas about the US is that geographically, America is isolated from the rest of the world. Such impressions have resulted in the Arabs being hesitant to relate with us. However, research has shown that 11 percent of the American population fail to recognize their country in the world map, meaning that Americans are not as patriotic as others might think (Hotcourses Ltd 2016).

The other rather misleading assumption that the Eastern nations have when they come to the US is that we are all obese. The availability of such statistics in the mainstream media and supported by the fact that there are so many restaurants selling fast foods in the country that has led many to assume that we all eat junk and have become overnight. Interestingly, research has shown that Mexico has 33 percent of its population being overweight. In France, it is supposed that in 15 years, the number of obese people in France will have doubled (Hotcourses Ltd 2016). Other counties that are increasing becoming obese are New Zealand and Australia. The question would, therefore, be why the East think that American are the most obese in the world and even purport that we are the all overweight.

The Emic – How the Americans think of Arabs

Interestingly, while the Arabs have developed misleading theories about the Western world and especially the US, American have also developed their own way of understanding the culture of the Eastern world. One of the perceived links that the US have nurtured about the Muslim population living in the far east is that they have little value for women and other social minifies. The existing rights have made us believe that the Arabian culture tends to oppress its women and children and has no value in the family life in totality. However, recent findings have established that there is a high value in family life in the Muslim communities because women are perceived as the pillars for supporting the family. In fact, children are the center of all family meetings and are found in many social places, which means that what we think of the Arabs is a misconception.

Furthermore, the recent terrorist attacks have created the impression that Muslims are lying about being peaceful and heir relation to terrorist. Since the 9/11, the way American thin of Islam and the Muslim culture has changed inn many aspects. We tend to think that Muslims are in support of acts of terror and violence towards the Christian societies. The assumption has led to the belief that Muslims are involved in the jihad war and violence against the Christian nations. However contrary to what were are told in the media, the understanding of the word jihad is a misconception. According to the organization Encountering the World of Islam (2016), jihad is a word in Arabic that implies struggles. The motivation of jihad is that one declares to make their soul to undergo a struggle and overcome the sinful desire. The poverty and hunger campaigns that are common the Muslim nations is also a symbol of Jihad movement. The implication is that the western world’s fed with the wrong understanding of the concept of jihad. Furthermore, about the perception that Muslims have about peace, reports indicate that Muslim scholars believe that Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims as well hold to this noting. It is thus a misleading concept when the world is made to believe that Muslims are violent.

The American perception of the Muslims also pictures the community as a group that is founded on strict guidelines that are a sharp contrast to what the Muslims believe. For example, it is easy to think that Muslims do not believe in Jesus and have little interest in him. Interestingly, Muslims have much respect for Jesus as they acknowledge him as a prophet and have even has a history of naming their child from Jesus name, which they call Isa (Encountering the World of Islam 2016). However, the Muslims fail to understand that Jesus is considered the son of God and also fail to understand that Jesus died on the cross. Despite this, Americans are unaware that Jesus is mentioned 93 times in the Quran. Thus, as opposed to popular belief, it is likely that there is a lot about Jesus than the Muslims know and that the Christians think that Muslims do not know.

In conclusion, it is imperative to underscore the fact that by using an emic and epic perspective, the paper has defined the common misconception by both sides. The emic perspective related to how the Americans think of Arabs with a n interest in the manner in which they describe Jihad, women, terrorist, and Christianity as a whole. The review has established that it is huge disparity in the understanding of what American think they know about the Arabs than what the Arabian communities actually know. Furthermore, there is a lack of cohesion in what the world and especially the Arabs think of the US. We have been thought to be obese and that we are ignorant about the rest of the world. As it has been found, these are misconceptions that are misleading as there are American who are not conversant about their country. Furthermore, many people fail to realize that other countries are recording higher incidences of obesity than the US, meaning that the assumptions are mere speculations.


Encountering the World of Islam, 2016. Common Misconceptions about Muslims. Embracing Muslims with the Love of Christ. Available at: https://encounteringislam.org/misconceptions.

Hotcourses Ltd, 2016. Common cultural msconceptions about the USA. USA – Destination Guides. Available at: http://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/study-in-usa/destination-guides/cultural-misconceptions-about-the-usa/.

Leeward Community College, 2016. Emic and Etic Perspectives. Cultural Anthropology.

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