Question: Give an example of ethnocentric behavior in your country. Has it helped or hurt your country?
Answer: The system of apartheid in South Africa (that ended in 1994) was largely based on ethnocentrism . Many, if not most apartheid policies were created from a position of classifying ethnicities and races ethnocentrically. This created a race-based class system that denied South African citizens of all races equal opportunities and equal treatment under the law. South Africa was immensely damaged through this system in terms of cohesion amongst its citizens, in terms of maintaining internal stability in the country and in terms of its status in the world.
Post-apartheid South Africa has not escaped ethnocentric behavior however and the country’s social cohesion is being damaged through identity politics . Identity politics, a form of (negative) ethnocentrism, arrived in South Africa around the time of the passing away of Nelson Mandela, and has since caused serious damage to many of the gains made towards a stable, democratic, multi-cultural society. As long as identity politics prevails as a major influence in how personal identities are formed or defined, negative ethnocentrism is likely to prevail as a destabilizing force within South African society.
In South Africa one type of negative ethnocentrism - apartheid - has been replaced by another - identity politics, with a short period of positive ethnocentrism in-between: Between 1994 and more or less 2010, the concept of “Unity in Diversity [3;4]” prevailed, meaning: "We are uniquely different, but equal at the same time and we are all confident about who we are within our own groupings, meaning we have true diversity. As individuals and cultural groupings we are all committed to working on building a [new] country together to reach a common goal towards prosperity and opportunity for all".
Identity politics  has in recent years (post 2012) turned that approach on its head, because it functions from an in-group versus out-group perspective, resulting in the in-group viewing the out-group as an adversary. Identity politics tends to cause in-groups to view themselves as victims of out-groups, thereby disempowering themselves by taking on the victim role.
This is particularly noticeable within the South African context today where instead of focusing on the benefits of equal opportunities and the added advantages of affirmative action policies for the previously disadvantaged - brought by post-apartheid democracy - the idea of being victims of oppression based on past history takes priority and is emphasized even more than before.
In light of affirmative action policies, those with a sense of victimhood are in reality often in an advantaged position in relation to educational and job opportunities, but continue to view themselves as disadvantaged, because within identity politics there lies currency in victimhood and all in-groups are vying for this currency.
One could argue that the concept of Unity in Diversity, as is expressed on the (new) South African coat of arms  as was practiced in South Africa between 1994 and around 2012, is under normal circumstances the best possible philosophical approach to counter negative ethnocentrism, but that it is evidently no match to identity politics when introduced into a fragile young democratic environment, such as the post-apartheid South African one.
Identity politics , a negative ethnocentric phenomenon that did not originate in South Africa, but came across from the USA and Western Europe, seem to hold great appeal to young people, which in a general sense has a lot to do with a deterioration in parenting in the Western world and a general deterioration in the higher education system, with campuses having served as fertile ground for identity politics to flourish. The South African higher education system being modeled on the Western one therefore facilitated the cross pollination of identity politics into the local environment from abroad.
Due to the revolutionary history of South African politics during the apartheid era, identity politics caught on rather quickly when introduced locally and the philosophy of Unity in Diversity was sidelined and left behind in no time. This points to the fact that "the spirit of revolution" does not depend on oppression to come alive, but that it can have an energy of its own and that in some cases "any justification" for it to come alive would do.
It also points to the fact that Unity in Diversity was not something that especially younger South African citizens deeply embraced, which mostly has to do with a generational lack of context and understanding of the processes that lead to adopting the concept of Unity in Diversity. One could go as far as speculating that young South Africans do not have a full appreciation for the value of peace and harmony, due to not having experienced the turmoil in South Africa at the height of the apartheid years.
Unity in Diversity demands a certain level of maturity and strong individual as well as group identity to function: Globalization has over the years caused a weakening of the cultural identity of culture groupings. Weak cultural identity combined with weak personal identity will cause people to be drawn towards identity politics, because they can find identity in political ideology, which would substitute the lack of finding it in cultural or personal values.
In order to experience a sense of personal identity [a basic need of all human beings], identity is thus found in group contexts instead of within the individual's own personal Self or within their own traditional cultural contexts. Identity found in group settings is insecure by its nature and tends to automatically revert to the in-group versus out-group dynamic, meaning everyone becomes everyone else's adversaries.
Although one may have expected that the weakening of cultural identity would have increased cultural relativity, which in turn would have reduced ethnocentrism, it apparently has [had] the opposite effect. Ethnocentrism doesn't disappear when genuine cultural diversity is weakened, it just shifts to identity politics. One is thus left with the question: Which type of ethnocentrism is the preferred one? Since it cannot be avoided or removed, would we rather have: Strong genuine cultural diversity (with mild or strong ethnocentrism); or strong identity politics (usually with strong ethnocentrism)?
This author would like to make the case that in multicultural societies such as South Africa, there is a middle way: Unity in Diversity, which reduces negative ethnocentrism and transforms it into positive ethnocentrism while retaining strong cultural and personal identify at the same time. Unity in Diversity can however only function with individual and cultural identity having been consistently infused with the Unity in Diversity philosophy and principles from the start.
In fact, cohesion - in this context meaning respect for differences between groups and cultures that exist in the same environment - needs to be drummed into people from a young age and both parental and higher education is key in such a process. Importantly however - and it bears repeating: cultural identity should be maintained and strengthened at the same time. This combination will provide for confidence and contentment within one's own culture, while also being comfortable with other groups being present in the same country or land.
If both parenting and the education system fails in this regard and if personal and cultural identity becomes diluted and weakened, the idea and concept of Unity in Diversity would not be believed in enough to be supported and would not be strong enough to act as bulwark against identity politics. When culture is reduced insecurity sets in and identity politics becomes a refuge. Take the foundations away and Unity in Diversity gives way to Disunity in opposing Ideologies.
By JJ Montagnier
Evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture.
2. Identity Politics
A tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.
3. Unity in Diversity
4. South Africa coat of arms
Identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.
1.) The state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes.
1.1) The behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one's own tribe or social group.
[Note: The question that prompted this article was posed to me in a sociology course I am currently doing and this article is the answer I have prepared].