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The Social Stigma Surrounding Foreigners

The Social Stigma Surrounding Foreigners


Foreigners have been a subject of curiosity and fascination for centuries, but unfortunately, they have also been a subject of social stigma. The social stigma surrounding foreigners is not new, and it is not confined to a single country or culture. It is a worldwide phenomenon that has deep-rooted historical and cultural reasons. Being a foreigner is often associated with being an outsider, an alien who does not belong to the society. This article will delve deeper into the social stigma surrounding foreigners and the reasons behind it.

The Historical Context

The social stigma surrounding foreigners has its roots in history, particularly in the history of colonization. Colonization refers to the process whereby a powerful country takes over the control and administration of a weaker country or region. During the period of colonization, the natives of the colonized countries were looked down upon as inferior to the colonizers. This gave rise to a culture of racism, which still exists today in many parts of the world.

Colonizers believed that their culture and way of life were superior to that of the colonized peoples. The colonizers forced their culture, religion, and way of life on the natives, destroying their way of life. This led to the concept of cultural imperialism, where one culture is imposed on another. The colonized peoples were viewed as subordinates who needed to be civilized, converted, and taught the ways of the colonizers. This cultural imposition led to a lack of respect for the native culture and the people.

The effects of colonization are still felt today, although the colonizers have long since left. The social stigma surrounding foreigners is a direct result of the colonization period, which created a divide between the colonizers and the colonized peoples. The colonizers saw themselves as being above the native culture, and this created a culture of superiority and aloofness towards foreigners.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are another reason for the social stigma surrounding foreigners. Culture refers to the way of life, customs, traditions, language, and beliefs of a people. When foreigners immigrate to a new country, they often bring with them their culture, which can be vastly different from the host country’s culture. This cultural difference can cause a sense of alienation and mistrust between the foreigner and the host country’s people.

The foreigner’s culture may be viewed as strange, exotic, or even frightening by the host country’s people. For example, a foreigner from a Muslim country may be viewed with suspicion because of the negative stereotypes associated with Muslims in the media. Similarly, a foreigner from an African country may be viewed as primitive or backward because of the stereotypes associated with Africa.

The host country’s people may also view the foreigner’s way of life as unethical or immoral. For example, a foreigner who does not eat meat may be viewed as being too picky or difficult to please. Similarly, a foreigner who does not drink alcohol may be viewed as being boring. These stereotypes and prejudices can create a sense of stigmatization for the foreigner and make it difficult for them to integrate into the host country’s society.

Lack of Understanding

A lack of understanding is another reason for the social stigma surrounding foreigners. When two cultures meet, there is often a lack of understanding between them. This lack of understanding can lead to misunderstandings, which can cause friction between the foreigners and the host country’s people.

The host country’s people may not understand the foreigner’s language or way of communicating. This can create a sense of frustration and isolation for the foreigner, who may feel they are not understood. Similarly, the foreigner may not understand the host country’s customs, culture, and language, which can create a sense of alienation from the host country’s people.


Politics are also a reason for the social stigma surrounding foreigners. The political climate of a country can create a sense of hostility towards foreigners. For example, if a country is at war with another country, the people of that country may view foreigners from that country with suspicion and hostility. Similarly, if a country has a high level of immigration, there may be a sense of resentment towards foreigners who are seen as taking jobs and resources from the host country’s people.

Recent Developments

In recent years, the social stigma surrounding foreigners has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to a rise in xenophobia and discrimination towards foreigners, particularly those from Asian countries. This discrimination has been fueled by the media, which has portrayed the virus as being a foreign import, and by politicians, who have used the pandemic as an opportunity to further their anti-immigrant agendas.

The United Nations has warned that the pandemic has led to an increase in hate crimes towards foreigners, and has called on governments to take action to prevent discrimination and hate crimes. In October 2020, the United Nations launched a global campaign called Respect for All to combat xenophobia and discrimination towards foreigners.


The social stigma surrounding foreigners is a complex issue that has deep-rooted historical and cultural reasons. Colonization, cultural differences, a lack of understanding, and politics are all contributing factors to this stigma. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, leading to an increase in xenophobia and discrimination towards foreigners from certain countries.

It is important for individuals, governments, and organizations to take action to combat the social stigma surrounding foreigners. This can be achieved through education, intercultural dialogue, and the promotion of respect for diversity. The challenge is to create a world where foreigners are not seen as outsiders but are welcome members of society, where diversity is celebrated rather than stigmatized.

Advocates for immigrants’ rights are usually quick to point out to adversaries that immigration is a tenet on which the United States was founded, as even the residents of Jamestown–the first established colony in America, which was established in 1607–had arrived on American soil from a foreign land. Yet, illegal immigration and legal immigration are two different subjects.

For most Americans of European descent, whose ancestors arrived at Ellis Island and made a new life in this country, did so by legally immigrating to the States. Thus, some detractors from the original argument would insist that it does not make sense to apply immigrant rights to those who unlawfully reside on American soil, because they never formally applied for legal residency. These same people might even refuse to employ the term “immigrant” to this debate, instead using the word “alien” with hostility and full implication that the illegal entrant does not legally belong in the United States.

Meanwhile, lobbyists for the enhancement of rights allowed to illegal immigrants would be apt to modify the term in favor of calling someone an “undocumented” immigrant, suggesting no person, as a human being, can be considered “illegal” in and of themselves.

As hinted at by considerations listed above, even the names by which illegal immigrants and immigrants’ rights are called can involve some sense of social stigma. Extrapolating from the term “alien,” the word has connotations of strangeness or otherness.

Nevertheless, that general feeling of the individual being foreign, almost to the extent of not even being the same species, still applies. Those most heavily affected by such sensibilities would be apt to think that not only would immigrant rights fail to pertain to illegal aliens, but too, that basic human rights should not come into play.

Yet immigrants’ rights and civil liberties are two different concepts in themselves. While immigrant rights are often loosely defined by what a lawful permanent resident/green card holder may be entitled to, there are basic constitutional freedoms that are valid for all inhabitants of the United States, which after the 20th century, are in line with United Nations convention on universal rights.

Illegal immigrants, and by association, their children are often discriminated against when their status is discovered. While elements of racism may exist irrespective of immigrants’ rights in this discrimination, Mexicans–who comprise the biggest bloc of illegal immigrants–are frequent targets of racial prejudice.

Despite any valuable services a foreign worker might be able to provide, or any community service/scholastic aptitude the child of an illegal immigrant might exhibit, many staunch adversaries of the enhancement of rights allowed to illegal immigrants have already established both their own personal value judgments, as well as generalizations of what they perceive an illegal immigrant to be.

However, regardless of the contrast between any right or wrongdoing, a child under the age of 6 cannot possible be held accountable for their participation in any activity. As a result, the policy of immigrations transcends mere politics, thrusting it into a forum of ethics and humanity.