Emic vs Etic

A key topic that is commonly missed when discussing diversity and the understanding and accepting of the diverse is the topic of emic vs etic; the former relates to an approach or of studying cultures or languages from its internal elements and how they function while the latter denotes an approach that studies society from an objective, nonstructural perspective. While these two ideas, more importantly emic, are most commonly associated with the study of societies, they are important factors that should be adopted into everyday mindsets as they can serve as an adequate basis for understanding and accepting the points of views of people from different backgrounds.

The importance of an emic point of view is that if we as a naturally fearful race of the unknown sought to understand the activities, traditions and simply the lifestyles of people who differ from us by for example simply talking to them the we will gain a better, more reliable image of them and their backgrounds. By doing this, by taking the effort to learn about a society from the member of that society then room for bigotry and racism would be greatly diminished because the first step to accepting the diverse is understanding it and to understand it you have to learn about it.


Olive, James L. (2014). Reflecting on the Tensions Between Emic and Etic Perspectives in Life History Research: Lessons Learned [35 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 15(2), Art. 6,


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