Xenophobia
Overview
 
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup
Ingroup
In sociology and social psychology, ingroups and outgroups are social groups to which an individual feels as though he or she belongs as a member, or to which they feel contempt, opposition, or a desire to compete. People tend to hold positive attitudes towards members of their own groups, a...

 towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.
Encyclopedia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup
Ingroup
In sociology and social psychology, ingroups and outgroups are social groups to which an individual feels as though he or she belongs as a member, or to which they feel contempt, opposition, or a desire to compete. People tend to hold positive attitudes towards members of their own groups, a...

 towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".

Definitions

Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted antipathy towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED),
unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races (Webster's)

The Dictionary of Psychology defines it as "a fear of strangers". As defined by the OED, it can mean a fear of or aversion to, not only people from other countries, but other cultures, subcultures and subsets of belief systems; in short, anyone who meets any list of criteria about their origin, religion, personal beliefs, habits, language, orientations, or any other criteria. While some will state that the "target" group is a set of persons not accepted by the society, in reality only the phobic person need hold the belief that the target group is not (or should not be) accepted by society. While the phobic person is aware of the aversion (even hatred) of the target group, they may not identify it or accept it as a fear.

A clinical definition is: An irrational fear of members of a certain race foreign to one's own, often adjunct and secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Also: One of the attitude groupings characteristic of The Authoritarian Personality. A Vietnam veteran witnessed members of the Viet Cong skinning his fellow soldiers alive. He developed hatred of people with Mongol eyelids. In both cases, the xenophobia was adjunct to PTSD.

A xenophobic person has to genuinely think or believe at some level that the target is in fact a foreigner. This arguably separates xenophobia from racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 and ordinary prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 in that someone of a different race does not necessarily have to be of a different nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

. In various contexts, the terms "xenophobia" and "racism" seem to be used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race, ethnicity, and ancestry). Xenophobia can also be directed simply to anyone outside a culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, not necessarily one particular race or people.

Two forms

The first is a population group present within a society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 that is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries, or became part of this society through conquest and territorial expansion. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, pogroms or in other cases, genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

.

The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance, at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. In addition, entire xenophobic societies tend not to be open to interactions from anything "outside" themselves, resulting in isolationism
Isolationism
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

 that can further xenophobia.

See also

  • Chauvinism
    Chauvinism
    Chauvinism, in its original and primary meaning, is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. It is an eponym of a possibly fictional French soldier Nicolas Chauvin who was credited with many superhuman feats in the Napoleonic wars.By extension it has come...

  • Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with...

  • List of phobias
  • List of xenophobic terms
  • Nativism
    Nativism
    Nativism may refer to:* Nativism or political nativism, a term used by scholars to refer to ethnocentric beliefs relating to immigration and nationalism; antiforeignism...

  • Nationalism
    Nationalism
    Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

  • Xenophily
    Xenophily
    Xenophily or xenophilia means an affection for unknown objects or peoples. It is the opposite of xenophobia or xenophoby. The word is a synthesis from the Greek "xenos" and "philia" .-In fiction:...

  • Xenocentrism
    Xenocentrism
    Xenocentrism is a political neologism, coined as the antonym of ethnocentrism. Xenocentrism is the preference for the products, styles, or ideas of someone else's culture rather than of one's own...

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