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History and Theory 47 (December 2008), 607-616 © Wesleyan University 2008 ISSN: 0018-2656

A CRITIQUE OF ETHNOCENTRISM AND THE CRISIS OF MODERNITY

Culture Troubles: Politics and the Interpretation of Meaning. By Patrick


Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Pp.
viii, 395.

The question of whether the theoretical concepts and assumptions of the social
sciences (including history) can be universally applied has long interested schol-
ars. They have never ceased to ask themselves, at least implicitly, to what extent
such concepts and assumptions allowed for an understanding and explanation of
the behavior of people placed in contexts other than the modern Western one, in
both the present and the past. In most cases they have answered affirmatively,
as they believed that beyond cultural differences there are constant features in
human behavior and interaction. This universalistic conviction has been rein-
forced by the assumption that humankind’s history is a unitary process, ruled by
progress, heading toward a modern Western type of society. Unanimity, however,
has never prevailed. Skeptical voices not only have raised doubts about the power
of social science’s concepts to account for the whole range of human behaviors,
they have also warned that in adopting a universalistic perspective one runs the
risk of falling prey to ethnocentrism. That is, the risk of attributing to human
actions meanings, reasons, and causes that are common in our modern Western
context but that are lacking in other contexts, resulting in an inadequate under-
standing and explanation of many of these actions. The ethnocentric approach
also assumes that the absence of what are taken to be normal behaviors is an
anomaly that needs analysis. So, critics of ethnocentrism argue, social science’s
concepts, even if they are suitable for studying Western society, are more of a
hindrance than a help when studying other societies and cultures.
Criticism of ethnocentrism seems to have intensified in recent years. As
Fuyuki Kurasawa points out, the increasing recognition of cultural pluralism
and difference in our global age is leading social theory to an impasse, making it
increasingly ill-equipped to confront the challenge posed by this cultural plural-
ism. This problem is compounded by the so-called crisis of modernity, that is,
by the questioning of whether the modern view of human history is a faithful
picture of things as they really are. In fact, the intensification of criticism of
ethnocentrism is no more than a symptom of this crisis. Hence any discussion of

. An approach Margaret Somers has graphically called as “epistemology of absence,” since it


induces scholars to search for an explanation not of the actual events, but of the supposedly absent
ones. “Class Formation and Capitalism: A Second Look at a Classic,” European Journal of Sociology
37, no. 1 (1996), 180.
. Fuyuki Kurasawa, The Ethnological Imagination: A Cross-Cultural Critique of Modernity
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), ix and 1.
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ethnocentrism should be set within a wider project of rethinking the theoretical


and epistemological legacy of modernity.
Debate on ethnocentrism has been substantially enriched and broadened by
the appearance of Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz’s book. It is not only
an insightful and well argued contribution to the criticism of ethnocentrism, but
also an original attempt to elaborate an alternative approach that avoids the risks
of theoretical universalism. The authors are qualified and well equipped for this
undertaking; they are both political scientists who specialize in comparative
political studies. The writing of this book has been stimulated by difficulties
they encountered in explaining African political life with the theoretical tools
usually employed. Chabal and Daloz’s book is much more than an outstanding
and authoritative contribution to the debate on ethnocentrism. It is also a valu-
able contribution to updating the theory of human action. In criticizing the main
paradigms of the modern social sciences and introducing such new concepts as
“systems of meaning,” the authors help to develop and strengthen an innovative
theoretical perspective.
Students of human affairs should not overlook this book. Although the authors
belong to the field of political science and this is their main area of discussion,
the questions they pose, the critiques they launch, and the proposals they advance
are relevant for all disciplines. The book is especially relevant for history, as
historical inquiry, as Chabal and Daloz themselves stress (223-224), also runs
the risk of ethnocentrism. Historical anachronism is no more than ethnocentrism
projected over past societies.

The authors begin by pointing out that any attempt to understand the behavior of
people in cultural settings other than our own always entails a risk of misunder-
standing (1). This is due to difficulties in understanding behaviors distinctive to a
cultural context through categories from another one. In spite of epistemological
cautions that scholars usually take, the social sciences cannot escape this risk, as
they analyze all human actions by means of concepts emanating from a specific
historical setting, modern Western society. In order to avoid ethnocentrism, the
authors propose a theoretical and methodological alternative, namely adopt-
ing a local perspective of analysis: a perspective that takes specific situations
as its starting point and whose object is the interpretation of meanings, that is,
deciphering how the people concerned make sense of what has happened. This
alternative requires abandoning any notion of universal theory, specifically those
theories based on a single type of subject and that conceives of human history as
a linear process of modernization resulting in Westernization (7-9).
To achieve local knowledge it is necessary, according to the authors, “to ad-
dress the issue of culture” (4). Since universal concepts “would obscure rather
than illuminate” the understanding of processes at work in many non-Western so-
cieties, attention must be focused on the cultural context within which behaviors
are embedded (13). But it is also necessary to adopt a new concept of culture. The
authors specifically reject two notions of culture: one that sees culture as a set of
. Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
a critique of ethnocentrism and the crisis of modernity 609
individual norms, beliefs, creeds, and values (11) and another, a structuralist one,
that sees culture as a universal unconscious rooted in human nature (59). Against
both, Chabal and Daloz advocate a concept of culture as a system of meanings
that operates as an environment within which human behavior follows a number
of particular courses (21). This cultural environment influences perception, un-
derstanding, and organization of the world and therefore it has “a deep influence
on how we live” (37). Throughout their book, the authors draw upon Clifford
Geertz’s work: they seek to bring his ethnographic insight to the discipline of
comparative politics. They take Geertz’s notion of culture as a system of signs
that operates as a pattern or structure of meanings through which people “give
shape to their experience” (25).
Culture, they argue, is “one of the key fundaments of social life” (22) and a
primary explanatory variable of human action. Therefore, the subject matter of
the social sciences should be redefined. If culture is a system of meaning, then the
aim of a “cultural approach” is to uncover it (52), that is, to decode the “webs of
significance” (30) that underlie action. This operation (“interpretation of mean-
ings”) requires making the effort to decode the significance of events “from the
other’s viewpoint” (4) in order to make sense of the behavior of actors within
their own and local settings (31). This means making sense of the concepts ac-
tually at work in the setting under study. Concepts such as corruption, politics,
democracy, power, state, representation, and resistance, for instance, should not
be applied uniformly over time and space, as their meanings vary depending on
historical context (25).
Chabal and Daloz write against two of the main theoretical paradigms of so-
cial science: modernization and rational choice. The former is grounded on an
evolutionist and teleological view of humankind’s history, seen as a universal
process with a “recognizable direction,” Westernization (46). The moderniza-
tion paradigm (or development theory) is also grounded on an objectivist or
materialist assumption that socioeconomic conditions causally determine other
human realms and that therefore changes in these conditions give rise to similar
institutions and practices everywhere. Specifically, it is taken for granted that
there is a causal link between “the social and political realms” and that “social
change fashions the evolution of politics” (127-128). Thus, for instance, capitalist
development would bring with it democratic political regimes, as it is assumed
that as traditional societies are eroded, people behave increasingly as utilitar-
ian individuals, pursuing their own self-interest (98 and 128). As for the ratio-
nal-choice paradigm, it is based on the assumption that there is a transcultural,
universal human nature and that human beings are “endowed with ‘innate’ and
unchanging features” (64). As a consequence, universal rationality underlies
human behavior in any historical setting.
Chabal and Daloz maintain, however, that these paradigms cannot apply to all
parts of the world, since they have been erected out of the specific historical ex-
perience of Western society. This is the case, for instance, with such categories
as “individual” and “citizen,” as it is clear that there are societies where these
notions do not make sense (314). The authors resolutely oppose any sort of “para-
digmatic ecumenism” (311) and reject the notion of a general theory and the
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search for general laws inspired by the natural sciences. General theories
are possible in the study of nature (where universal causal factors operate),
they say, but not in the social sciences, as these deal with phenomena that
possesses specific causal logics (78). Cultural differences and cleavages are so
deep that “they put into question the very concept of ‘human nature’” (58) and
make people’s identity culturally bounded (99). Hence analysis must begin by
uncovering the forms of identity actually existing, instead of assuming a precon-
ceived idea of the self (101).
The same applies to rationality, as this also is “culturally contextual” (75). All
human beings are, of course, possessed of reason, but “they reason differently in
distinct settings” (74). In fact, the first and most significant function of culture
is “to provide a framework for the enunciation of rationality” (135). Therefore,
human action obeys not a single but many forms of rationality, and it is not plau-
sible to assume that “the motivations and interests” that drive people are always
the same nor that all human beings react in the same way to similar situations.
It is for this reason that utilitarian or rational-choice approaches are inherently
reductionist and misleading (75).
To implement the cultural approach, according to Chabal and Daloz, a particu-
lar methodology is required, one that is inductive and semiotic (172). Thinking
inductively means dispensing with any theoretical framework prior to empirical
observation and consequently making use just of concepts and theories derived
from this observation. This methodology, based on a posteriori theorization, dif-
fers from that of the “hard” sciences, which consists in setting up and testing
hypotheses. But the “scientific method” is not applicable in the social sciences,
since the study of cultural diversity requires a methodology that can be applied to
divergent cases (176). Thinking inductively means asking “real questions in the
real world,” that is, in accordance with their salience at the local level (179). But it
also means assuming that our expectations of causality are contextually bounded
and that therefore we should not take for granted any causal relationship. Other-
wise we run the risk of posing “pseudo-questions,” that is, questions “with little
heuristic pertinence or negligible importance in the real world” (178).
These are the reasons that lead the authors to advocate what they call “theo-
retical eclecticism” (309). That is, the a priori acceptance of all theories and their
selective use according to empirical necessities. The main shortcoming of uni-
versalistic models of interpretation, they argue, is that by assuming that a single
analytical grid can explain all events, it imprisons “empirical reality within
an a priori set of conclusions” (310). In contrast, the “cultural approach” is open
to all theories, so long as they enable us to make sense of empirical reality.
The test of theoretical relevance must be “entirely practical” (310). Only an
“eclectic methodology” of this kind, Chabal and Daloz claim, allows us to escape
ethnocentrism, because it enables us to test empirically the benefits and limits of
the various theoretical frameworks (327).
In order to illustrate and test their approach, Chabal and Daloz apply it to the
study of the role of the state and political representation in three countries: France,
Sweden, and Nigeria. Their aim is to demonstrate that to understand and explain
different political behaviors in these countries one must use not general concepts
a critique of ethnocentrism and the crisis of modernity 611
of state or interest, but specific ones actually operating there and that can be de-
rived from empirical observation.
The concept of culture as a system of meanings leads Chabal and Daloz to re-
ject certain notions deeply entrenched in the social sciences. The first is the notion
of ideology, as it entails that culture is a by-product of socioeconomic relations or
interest-based social cleavages and therefore an “instrument of domination.” For
them, on the contrary, culture is not epiphenomenal, but rather the context that
enables contests of domination and resistance to exist (70-71). Contending ide-
ologies operate within systems of meaning they share (91). Culture is not “merely
the product of cynical and interest-based manipulation” (71), and the political use
of culture is not “merely instrumental, cynical or manipulative” (135). Culture
is not an ideology that elites manipulate and exploit “in order to gain, and hold,
power,” but rather the context that establishes the guidelines and constraints of
elites’ conduct in the first place (124). The origin of political conflicts is also not
to be found in ideological confrontation, but in the existence of such a shared
cultural context. It is true that political actors often justify conflict on the basis
of cultural differences, but this does not mean that there is a causal relation
between the two. This would be so if culture were merely a set of values, but not
if it is a system of meaning. If so, the causes of conflicts are not to be found in
cultural differences, but rather in the cultural context within which such differ-
ences are thought and enacted (143).

Culture Troubles is a perceptive and stimulating book, with a really promising


alternative approach for human studies. Some points, however, need to be dis-
cussed, the first among them the authors’ notion of theoretical eclecticism. Here
their inductivism appears to be naive. They assume not only that an entirely pre-
theoretical empirical observation is possible but also that such an observation en-
ables analysts to select an accurate theory. This view of the relationship between
theory and observation is difficult to hold, and it is not a solid foundation on
which to build an alternative to ethnocentrism. This is true not only because such
theoretical neutrality is impossible, since any observation is always made, even if
implicitly, from a given theoretical outlook, but also because the authors operate
with a representational notion of theory, according to which theories are con-
ceptual or linguistic representations of a prior reality. This notion assumes that a
methodical and detached observation leads by itself to its theoretical conclusion.
So the authors never specify an exact procedure for selecting theories. They seem
to assume that this selection will resolve itself in the course of research. From
their point of view, ethnocentrism is the result of an inadequate fit between theory
and empirical reality, or, to be more exact, the result of an empirically inadequate
application of theory. Hence their solution to ethnocentrism is to be found in a
readjustment between theory and reality by giving primacy to empirical observa-
tion and local interpretation.
This representational notion of theory has been seriously questioned in re-
cent times, although the authors don’t address this. In particular, it has been
undermined by the crisis of modernity—the challenge to the idea that reality is
transparent and can be grasped by our categories. Given that ethnocentrism has
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its origin in the universalization of modern Western categories, any reflection


and debate on it should be done in the light of the epistemological and theoretical
implications of this crisis. In what follows, I shall focus my attention on these
implications.
For a long time it was assumed that the modern worldview and its categories
referred to actually existing entities, phenomena, and processes. The category of
the individual self, for instance, referred to the existence of human nature, while
the category of society entailed the existence of an objective structure embodied
in the material realm of human interaction. Given the representational nature
conferred on these categories, the social sciences have used them as analytical
concepts in the study of human affairs. The concepts of individual and social
structure are the foundation of the two main paradigms erected by these sciences:
the subjectivist paradigm, grounded on the notion of rational choice, and the
objectivist one, built around the notion of social causality. Both paradigms are
in turn pervaded by the notion of progress (be this spiritual, moral, political, or
socioeconomic) and they therefore entail a teleological view of human history.
In recent times, however, the modern categories have been losing their repre-
sentational status, as it has been made clear that they are only culturally specific
ways of conceiving of human beings and their interactions. These categories did
not emerge as a result of the discovery, after a close and methodical observation,
of the essence of human reality. They rather emerged as a result of the reconcep-
tualization in secular terms of this reality triggered by the decline of providential-
ism. The modern worldview turns out to be not a theoretical representation, but
rather an “imaginary,” to use Charles Taylor’s term. That is, it is a set of general
assumptions about the human world through which this world is meaningfully
apprehended. The fact that modern categories are not objective representations
but components of an imaginary implies that theoretical concepts derived from
these categories cannot be regarded as representations of reality. On the contrary,
these concepts are an effect of the meaningful mediation of the modern imaginary
itself. As a consequence, a new notion of theory must be adopted that assumes
that any theory always entails to some extent a meaningful construction of real-
ity, indebted to an imaginary. This is so regardless of whether it is a general or
local theory.
This new notion of theory implies that the solution to the problem of ethnocen-
trism is not to be found simply in a better fit between theory and empirical real-
ity. Instead it implies that the concept of ethnocentrism itself must be redefined.
Ethnocentrism is not only the result of a universal application of Western social-
science concepts. If this were the case it would suffice to dispense with such
concepts and limit their use to studies of Western societies. But ethnocentrism is
also an effect of the objectivist notion of theory, that is, of the core assumption
that theoretical concepts refer to entities and processes that, by virtue of their
objective features, have a universal existence and are present in every human set-
ting. Theoretical objectivism and universalism are inextricably intertwined and
they imply and reinforce one another. Ethnocentrism is not merely a consequence

. Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).
a critique of ethnocentrism and the crisis of modernity 613
of universalizing Western categories; it is a consequence of the Western category
of universality. It was the conviction that they had deciphered the causal mecha-
nisms inherent in any human behavior that led social scientists to confer universal
validity on their theories and concepts. Western categories were universalized
because the conclusion had been previously reached that these categories name
human universals. So it is not so much cultural parochialism as it is representa-
tional culture that is at the origin of ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is a child of
the epistemology of absence intrinsic to theoretical objectivism.
If ethnocentrism is not solely a problem of conceptual inadequacy, then it
seems advisable to distinguish between two types of ethnocentrism, or, to be
exact, between two dimensions of ethnocentrism: the cultural and the theoretical.
Both dimensions are intertwined, but they require different remedies. Cultural
ethnocentrism involves universalizing modern Western cultural categories, that
is, attributing to human behavior—regardless of its historical setting—meanings,
intentions, and motivations encountered only in the modern Western context. Its
consequence is a misunderstanding of such behaviors; the remedy is to shake
off any cultural prejudice and take local meanings as the starting point. This is
what Chabal and Daloz advocate. Theoretical ethnocentrism, in contrast, involves
universalizing modern theories of human action, and attributing certain causes to
people’s behavior. Its consequence is a deficient explanation of these behaviors
and the identities underlying them. To overcome this deficiency, it is not enough
to resort to local meanings, as this ensures only a more faithful description and
understanding. Local knowledge is an effective antidote to cultural ethnocen-
trism, but it is ineffective in the fight against theoretical ethnocentrism. To avoid
the risks of the latter and make headway in the terrain of explanation, the first
thing to do is to take an attitude of epistemological suspicion toward theory, that
is, to see theory as not merely an analytical tool and a means of knowledge, but
also as itself a bearer and carrier of meanings.
It follows that our aim should not be to try to improve theory empirically, but
rather to denaturalize it, to try to discern to what extent it is a meaningful con-
struction of reality. Theories cannot be verified empirically, but must be decon-
structed. Or, to be exact, they can be verified through their deconstruction. What
one must do with modern social theory is not to reduce its scope of application, as
if we faced a mere problem of empirical inadequacy, but instead to stop taking its
concepts to be representations of natural objects. This is the only way to mitigate
the effects of the theoretical mediation of the modern imaginary. Viewed from
today’s vantage point, modern social theory’s explanatory shortcomings do not
stem from its culturally bounded condition; they stem from the fact that theory
as such is false. It is not even applicable to modern Western society. Rational
agents, social causation, and political modernization have not existed in the mod-
ern West. These are only the way certain phenomena have been interpreted when
viewed through the categorial prism of the modern imaginary.
Thus, to really undermine ethnocentrism, it seems to be necessary, apart from
denaturalizing modern social theory, to adopt a new theoretical perspective for
the study of human action. The crisis of modernity has made it clear that modern
categories are not objective representations. It is obvious, however, that such
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categories have deeply determined human practices, relations, and institutions.


Although neither human nature nor social structures exist, vast numbers of people
have identified and behaved as if they were rational individuals and/or social sub-
jects. It follows that the power of causation of such categories is not because they
are the means through which objective reality projects into action. It is instead
because the categories themselves have the power to determine human practices
and identities through their mediation. If people have behaved as they have, it
is not because they are natural subjects or functions of a social structure, but
because they have apprehended and made sense of their world and their place in
it through categories such as human nature and society. Thus the emergence and
development of modern Western society cannot be explained in terms of either
rational choice or modernization. The market economy and democracy were no
more than the outcome of implementing and institutionalizing the assumption
that human beings are autonomous agents moved by self-interest and endowed
with natural rights. Language is not merely a means of transmitting the meanings
of the real world; it is instead an active constructor of these meanings. This forces
us to adopt a theory of human action that takes linguistic mediation as a primary
causal factor in the making of meanings and as a major explanatory variable of
human behavior.
According to the theoretical perspective opened up by the crisis of modernity,
the causal origins of human action are to be found neither in agents’ intentionality
nor in their material conditions of existence. They are rather to be found in the
historically specific way human beings and their material conditions of existence
have been conceptualized through the categories of a particular imaginary.
It is crucial to notice, then, that what ethnocentrism takes as a normative pat-
tern is not exactly the Western model of historical development, but a certain
theory of human action. This is why ethnocentric approaches are not, as often
said, insensitive to cultural differences. They claim only that such differences
do not prevent us from applying universal analytical concepts, as in their view
any cultural expression is no more than a historically specific manifestation of
universally operating causal factors. The problem we face when dealing with
ethnocentrism, then, is not one of the empirical inadequacy of theory. It is rather
a problem of blindness about the genealogical or imaginary nature of theories.
It is crucial to recognize that what Western ethnocentric authors have been uni-
versalizing, from the very inception of modern social science, is not the Western
historical experience, but only a meaningful construction of it.
By introducing and drawing upon the concept of culture as a system of mean-
ings, Chabal and Daloz go very far in the direction of building a new theory of
human action that provides an alternative to theoretical ethnocentrism. I think,
however, that their concept of culture is underelaborated and that its implica-
tions are underexplored. In fact, the authors continue to use a notion of culture
as merely a context of meanings. According to this notion, meanings are always
local and must be understood within their cultural context, in order to avoid any
ethnocentric imposition of meanings. However, as I have pointed out, meanings
are not only culturally specific, but linguistically bounded. Therefore, analysis
cannot be limited to uncovering local meanings, but it must take yet another step
a critique of ethnocentrism and the crisis of modernity 615
and try to unpack and decode the underlying systems of meanings. Only by doing
so can we arrive at an explanation more satisfactory than that provided by modern
social-science paradigms.
Agents’ self-understanding must be always taken as the starting point of re-
search, and uncovering local meanings is an essential prerequisite for overcom-
ing ethnocentrism. But this is no more than a first step, as the aim of research is
not only to understand actions but above all to explain them (as Taylor cogently
argued some time ago).
The failure to explain is frequently found in works written in an anti-ethnocen-
tric vein. These works succeed in uncovering local meanings, but these remain
unexplained or continue to be explained only in conventional terms. This is often
the case, for instance, in postcolonial studies, which successfully demonstrate
the empirical absence of certain Western forms of identity, such as the self and
class, but continue to operate in terms of the Western representational notion of
identity. Therefore they conceive local identities (be they subalterns, peasants,
workers, women, or widows) as natural entities, implicit in their social or mate-
rial referents. Thus they partially reproduce the ethnocentric worldview they are
trying to avoid.
It seems as if disappointment with explanations based on modern social theory
has discouraged the search for any explanation. This appears to be the case, for
instance, for a recent contribution to the critique of ethnocentrism by Saba Mah-
mood. Mahmood cogently argues against the imposition of Western categories
(such as freedom, resistance, and natural rights), and she offers an impeccable
reconstruction of actual meanings and identities. But she says hardly anything
about the process of making these meanings and identities and, therefore, about
the causes of actions to which these give rise.
If emphasis is put only on recovering actual meanings, one also runs the risk
of backsliding into one of the criticized paradigms, that of rational choice. If this
recovery of meaning is not accompanied by a deconstruction of the systems of
meaning, the outcome is likely to be a subjectivist explanation of action, since
the agent’s self-understanding is left as the only explanatory variable. Chabal
and Daloz seem to be unaware of this risk. Evidence of this lack of awareness is
their repeated appeal to Max Weber’s statement that “man is an animal suspended
in webs of significance he himself has spun” (24 and 54) and their subsequent
claim that the aim of research is “to understand such webs of significance” (30).
It should be noticed, however, that for Weber such webs of significance are the
fruit of human creativity, and that therefore what he means by interpretation is
the understanding of agents’ reasons and intentions. The risk of subjectivism is
not averted by asserting the existence of multiple rationalities, as these can be
perfectly regarded as expressions of either human nature or the socioeconomic
environment. Apart from historicizing rationalities, we also need to redefine their
origin and nature. On this matter, as in many others, I think Chabal and Daloz

. Charles Taylor, “Understanding and Ethnocentricity,” in his Philosophy and the Social Sciences
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 116-133.
. Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2005).
616 miguel a. cabrera

discard too quickly authors such as Michel Foucault (60 and 312) and such theo-
retical trends as “post-modernism” (40 and 92) as support for the fight against
ethnocentrism.
The aim of research is not only to recover local meanings, but above all to
unpack and decode the systems of meanings at work in each setting. To achieve
this goal it is necessary to trace the genealogy of systems of meaning, that is,
to bring to light the terms of their linkage to an imaginary. To explain people’s
actions it is not enough to place them within their cultural context. It is also
necessary to put them into relation with the imaginary that produced the cultural
context. We are nowadays in a better position to carry out this task, as the crisis
of modernity has provided us with new and more effective epistemological and
theoretical insights.
This book is an extremely valuable contribution to the critique of ethnocen-
trism. It is a pity, however, that the authors have not made a clearer distinction
between cultural context and system of meanings and have not gone more deeply
into exploring the latter, for this limits the scope of their contribution. In any case,
the book sets a research agenda and marks a path to follow that will no doubt be
an inescapable reference point for future work about ethnocentrism, in particular,
and the theory of human action more generally.

Miguel A. Cabrera
University of La Laguna
Spain