Xenophobia

Originally the word xenophobia comes from the Greek words xénos, meaning ‘the stranger’ and ‘the guest’ and phóbos, meaning ‘fear’. Thus, xenophobia stands for ‘fear of the stranger’, but usually the term is taken to mean ‘hatred of strangers’1. Xenophobia can be understood as “an attitudinal orientation of hostility against non-natives in a given population”.2

In contrast to sociobiologists who consider xenophobia to be a universal phenomenon, social scientists describe it as one among several possible forms of reactions generated by anomic situations in the societies of modern states. Furthermore, it is growing out of the existence of essentialist symbolic and normative systems that legitimate processes of integration or exclusion. Thus, xenophobic behaviour is based on existing racist, ethnic, religious, cultural, or national prejudice. Xenophobia can be defined as the “attitudes, prejudices and behaviour that reject, exclude and often vilify persons, based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the community, society or national identity.” 3