Xenophobia vs Racism: Difference and Comparison

When we start to see a great increase in the progress of two closely associated unwelcomed terms like ‘Xenophobia’ and ‘Racism’, it’s never a good sign.

Across the globe, people are seen discriminating against others, unlike them, on the basis of their caste, race, origin and unfamiliarity, which gives rise to Xenophobia and Racism. Though xenophobia is somewhat similar to racism, their concept is vastly different.

Key Takeaways

  1. Xenophobia refers to the fear or hatred of people from different countries or cultures, while racism involves discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or skin color.
  2. Xenophobia can manifest in political, social, and economic contexts, whereas racism often relates to systemic and institutional practices.
  3. Racism is based on the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over another, while xenophobia stems from a perception of cultural or national differences.

Xenophobia v/s Racism

The difference between Xenophobia and Racism is that xenophobia is a phobia or hateful feelings toward strangers and foreigners, while racism is a broader belief that ethnic differences create the intrinsic supremacy of a particular race. Xenophobia refers to the fear of the unknown, whereas racism portrays that any race can tell the characteristics of a human, and their position makes them stronger than others.

Xenophobia vs Racism

Xenophobia is a combination of the words Xeno and phobia, which means strange or foreign and fear, respectively. It is the feeling of hatred and feeling of something that is perceived to be strange or not known.


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Guido Bolaffi, an Italian sociologist, stated that xenophobia could also be displayed as an unimportant magnification of another culture.

Racism is referred to a belief that a group of human beings portrays a different set of characteristics associated with hereditary attributes and can be separated based on the supremacy of one race over the other.

Racism also describes a situation in society where a dominant group of people takes advantage of the other groups below them.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonXenophobiaRacism
DefinitionXenophobia is related to the feeling of unlikeness towards a particular body.Racism is a belief that the characteristics define the supremacy of an individual.
Comprise ofIt comprises multiple factors.It comprises a single factor.
Discriminated onThey discriminate on the basis of hatred or not knowing the other.They discriminate on the basis of their cultural values and beliefs.
How they reactPeople are afraid of others.People treat other races’ people disrespectfully.
UsedXenophobia was used for discriminating against the immigrants because of the fear of being affected by them.Racism was used during the slavery era where African people were dominated by Americans due to their skin color.

What is Xenophobia?

The term Xenophobia is used to explain the dislike or hatred of someone that is strange or is from a different country or state. Merriam-Webster defined Xenophobia as fear and hatred that is associated with anyone who is a foreigner or stranger.

The term Xenophobia is derived from the words ‘Xenos’ and ‘phobos’, meaning ‘stranger’ and ‘fear’, respectively. Xenophobia was believed to have risen from irrational behaviour or ignorance.

In other words, xenophobia is considered free from anything different from the known things. It is the mindset of people who fear accepting things that can change their attitude or personality.

Xenophobia can be demonstrated in two forms of terror towards a particular group of population in society and other cultures.

The first form attacks the people of the society who differ in culture, race, politics, ethnicity, and religion and is commonly done to immigrants.

Immigrants who stay in big cities and countries like America are discriminated against due to them being different. The second form of xenophobia targets the places where different cultures are accepted.

The most common example of this form is the ban of Valentine’s Day in countries like India, Malaysia, etc., as they state it to be westernization and slaughtering of their values.

What is Racism?

The term Racism was used originally to separate or differentiate and place people together who followed the same beliefs, practices, and actions. It was used to separate biological bodies into different races.

People who have the same race share a similar set of traits, capabilities, or nature. Today, this term is defined as the trait that is inherited by people that makes them dominant or recessive to others.

Racism is a belief that race is the first factor of human characteristics and abilities and that racial dissimilarities make intrinsic supremacy of a particular race.

The actual definition of this word is debatable due to the small consensus between the experts about what race is and what inaugurates racism. Some people define racism as the ability or behaviour of a person which is been characterized by his race.

There is no accurate meaning of the term racism, due to which what can be considered as racism is not yet fixed.

Racism was commonly used during the time of slavery, where mostly black people were counted as an inferior group and were dominated by whites.

They were distinguished from the whites in the schooling, means of transport, drinking water facilities, public toilets or sanitation, etc.


Main Differences Between Xenophobia and Racism

  1. Xenophobia is a term related to the hatred or fear of something unknown, while racism is solely a belief that a person’s race makes them superior or inferior.
  2. A Xenophobic person is unlike any person who is different from them, while a racist doesn’t accept people who do not belong to their trait.
  3. In Xenophobia, people in a culture are afraid of other cultures, whereas in racism, people treat others with disrespect.
  4. Xenophobia is comprised of many different aspects, while racism has only one aspect.
  5. In xenophobia, people are discriminated against based on a person’s liking, whereas, in racism, people are discriminated against in the basics of culture and ethnicity.
Difference Between Xenophobia and Racism
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01419870.1997.9993946
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0306396816657719

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