A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

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Sargeras
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A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby Sargeras » Fri May 23, 2014 3:58 am UTC

Is there a word that explicitly means having a fear, discomfort or disapproval for another person's culture, that is not racism or xenophobia?

As far as I understand, racism is the discrimination on a person's race, which is to say their genetic background. So a racist Anglo-Saxon might discriminate against a person of Asian descent, regardless of whether they were raised in their ancestral culture or their local one. Yet still I see people use this word when referring to behaviour that indicates a disapproval of another person's culture, rather than their genetic make-up.

The word xenophobia comes to mind, but it's broadest meaning is unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar. In addition, a lot of people actually believe xenophobia is directly synonymous with racism. I have found others who think this, and other who disagree, especially when I explain at length my reasoning, but my question is in regards to an unambiguous term referring to another person's culture.

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Lazar
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Re: A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby Lazar » Fri May 23, 2014 4:11 am UTC

Despite your reservations, I think "xenophobia" would be the most apt word—unless you mean to take its canonical definition, "the unreasonable fear of foreigners or that which is foreign", and pare away the "unreasonable" to suggest a reasonable fear of the foreign. To my knowledge there's no word for that, and many would certainly dispute that that's a valid concept. But if you're trying to describe that sort of thinking with less opprobrium, you could maybe call it "insular", "parochial" or "provincial".
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Derek
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Re: A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby Derek » Fri May 23, 2014 6:26 am UTC

"Culture shock" might work in some contexts. That's less about being judgmental of other people's cultures and more just surprised, confused, and possibly discomforted. It also typically refers to an initial exposure, not a long term feeling.

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ahammel
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Re: A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby ahammel » Fri May 23, 2014 2:07 pm UTC

Sargeras wrote:As far as I understand, racism is the discrimination on a person's race, which is to say their genetic background.

Racism is the belief that some races are better than others, where "race" is an ill-defined concept with rather little relation to genetics. If I hear somebody complaining about the behaviour of, say, Danes in general, in perfectly happy to call that racism, whether or not Danes form a coherent genetic bloc.

If you're looking for a word for somebody who thinks his or her country and it's people are inherently superior, try 'chauvinist'.
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Diemo
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Re: A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby Diemo » Fri May 23, 2014 2:37 pm UTC

I dunno, I am pretty happy to call some cultures better than other cultures. For example, I think that the Catholic culture of hating and repressing sex is a bad culture. I wouldn't call this xenophobia or racism though, though maybe other people would.
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mathmannix
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Re: A Word that's Not Racism or Xenophobia?

Postby mathmannix » Tue May 27, 2014 2:35 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:If you're looking for a word for somebody who thinks his or her country and it's people are inherently superior, try 'chauvinist'.


Chauvinism means (feminists' redefining the word aside) 'excessive patriotism'. It has negative connotations, but nationalism and patriotism do not, at least inherently. I am an American, proud to be so, and I believe America is inherently superior, and that is patriotism, but not a bad thing. It's not excessive. I'm sure if I were from England or Germany I would think the same thing about whatever country in which I was born and raised *. It's just like rooting for a sports team, only different. If I root for a football team and believe that they are truly the best, not (necessarily) based on facts like winning percentage or number of national championships, but because they are inherently better than any other team, and would still be so even if they could not win their way out of a paper bag, then that's the same thing. There's nothing wrong with that.

* - hard to imagine it being true for France, though...
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