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Cultural Relativism

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Cultural Relativism "It is na�ve to believe that there are no cultural universals in abnormality but, at the same time, what is normal in one society is not always regarded as normal in another society." A person's behaviour is often defined by the culture in which they live. Cultural relativism looks at how relevant a person's culture is in terms of defining abnormality. Different cultures, like different religions follow different traditions. These may be perfectly normal within their culture, yet an onlooker would see their behaviour as strange (or abnormal). 'What is normal in one society is not always normal in another' because different cultures have different ideas of normal and abnormal behaviour and therefore to decide between normality and abnormality depends largely on a value judgement. Values are based on consensus, which takes into account only the views of the majority. Even within the same culture, people have different values because of their socialisation. ...read more.


The idea of 'a failure to function adequately' uses judgements that are influenced by societies norms and values. Different cultures have different social norms, which can cause problems in defining abnormality across cultures. However, as norms are usually created from values, people within one culture can also have different norms. For example, the different political parties have different moral standards, the Green Party's major concern is for the environment whereas the Labour Party is for the working man. Social attitudes can be distorted by politics and whilst political parties are voted in by consensus, there are still going to be people who disagree with what they are saying. Behaving differently from the majority of people in society does not necessarily mean that they are abnormal. Looking at politics in view of other cultures, some cultures are very oppressive and so some people will rebel from this oppression. We would see this as normal as we live in a pretty free environment and can understand why they are doing it and it seems like a normal thing to do when oppressed. ...read more.


Some cultures still do not accept homosexuality. We need to measure how much time affects peoples beliefs through different cultures. There are methods of classifying mental illness as to try and make it a more objective process. The first is DSM, which stands for Diagnostic and Statistical model. There are five axis to be taken into consideration when diagnosing a person. The most relevant one to culture is the DSM-IV which looks at Psychosocial and Environmental Problems which might contribute to the present condition. The other method of classification is ICD, International Classification of Disorders, the most recent being ICD-10. It uses statistics from many different countries so that an agreement across cultures can be reached. There are some views that are culturally universal, which means that they are viewed in the same way by all cultures. For example, chronic depression and anti-social behaviour are viewed in all cultures as undesirable, abnormal behaviour. There are not many cultural universals when dealing with abnormal behaviour which is why models such as DSM and ICD have been introduced so that we can take into account the cultural differences. ...read more.

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