Saying anything "passes for" something else normally means (in the opinion of the writer) that the thing is not in fact what it's claimed to be. The usage is closely related to passing off, meaning to give a false identity or character to.
Among other things, the sentence thus claims that the area of study called sociology in the Western world is distorted by ethnocentric bias.
It's difficult to separate the opinions of the writer from the opinions of the intellectuals he's writing of in this sentence. Superficially the writer attempts to present himself as a "neutral reporter", but it seems clear to me the overall implication is that the writer agrees with his subjects' negative opinion of Western sociology. I think an unbiased author would have written of an ethnocentric bias, for example (using "the" implies the bias really exists, whereas "an" suggests that the intellectuals perceive it to exist, and the unbiased writer merely reports that perception).