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Aporophobia: The Rejection of and Contempt for the Poor

Why do some nations reject immigrants as foreigners or poor? The philosopher Adela Cortina argues that this reluctance is as a consequence of their poverty.

Aporophobia: rejection and contempt for the poor

Last actualisation: January 07, 2023

Aporophobia is a neologism formed from the mix of two Greek terms: aporos (without resources) and phobos (fear). It means hatred, fear, loathing or hostility towards the poor, poor or helpless.

The first to make use of and disseminate this latest concept was the philosopher and professor of the University of Valencia, Adela Cortina, within the Nineteen Nineties. Her aim was to differentiate this attitude from other discriminatory manifestations, equivalent to xenophobia or racism. In this sense, Cortina defends that acts of xenophobia, racism, rejection of immigrants or refugees are in truth expressions of resentment that stem not from their status as foreigners, but from the easy fact of being poor.

in 2017 Urgent Spanish foundation selected aporophobia because the word of the yrto attract attention to this phenomenon. Similarly, the term is already a component Spanish language dictionary in the identical yr, the Spanish Senate passed a motion to incorporate aporophobia as an aggravating circumstance within the Criminal Code.

How is aporophobia expressed?

In on a regular basis life, aporophobia manifests itself in two ways. Firstly, in the tendency to side with the higher off, from whom some profit could be obtained; and secondly, within the tendency to disregard the weakest, who seem unable to supply anything in return.

Immigrants are rejected not because they’re foreigners, but because they don’t have anything to supply. For example, no nation refuses to permit an Arab sheikh to settle in its country, nor does a famous foreign soccer player refuse residence. What’s more, yachts moor effortlessly on the wealthy coast of the Mediterranean, while exiles drown attempting to get there.

At this point, Cortina wonders what lies behind these double standards of accepting and rejecting immigrants. Are some rejected because they’re foreigners or because they’re poor?

The writer answers this query with a press release “the poor are rejected, even in the event that they come from their circle of relatives”. In other words, the poor, as an alternative of inspiring hospitality, encourage rejection and hostility.

Poverty generates rejection since it is assumed that nothing could be obtained in return from the opposite.

Possible causes

The causes of aporophobia are usually not very clear. However, some hypotheses have been proposed.

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Xenophobic brain

Based on neurology, Cortina says the brain has a xenophobic component as a survival mechanism. This means that individuals have a biological tendency to surround themselves with individuals with whom they feel a greater affinity.

This implies that we are inclined to group with individuals who speak the identical language, share an analogous physiognomy, share the identical culture, etc. Therefore, it is probably going that those that differ promote our rejection. The brain can interpret them as a threat.

However, this explanation alone doesn’t justify the presence of aporophobia. It ought to be noted that humans are rational animals with a powerful empathic component. We are in a position to look after others, no matter differences.

No reciprocity

Cortina claims aporophobia it relies on the principle of reciprocity and economic exchange. People have to have a tool within the system.

The poor, without resources, are rejected because, in this angle, they don’t have anything to supply to society. In other words, the poor are those that wouldn’t have the tools to offer back what they’ve been given.

Cognitive dissonance

From a psychological standpoint, yes it has been suggested that aporophobia could also be a consequence of cognitive dissonance. It is defined as a mental disorder that we experience when we now have two conflicting ideas or behavior that’s inconsistent with our belief system.

In the case of aporophobia, there may be a perceived discrepancy between how someone sees themselves (“I’m person”) and their behavior (“I do not help or look away after I meet a vulnerable person”). This conflict could cause us to search for excuses to rationalize dissonant behavior, creating reasons to reject poor people.

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Political ideologies

From an ideological standpoint, neoliberal considering (based on individualism, competitiveness and meritocracy) assumes that success depends only on will, effort and talent; that socio-economic conditions don’t have anything to do with it.

Therefore, as an alternative of understanding poverty as a social failure, we respond with contempt and blaming the poor for his or her situation. Or at best, applying a presumption of liability to them.

Social and private effects

Aporophobia is a phenomenon that fuels a vicious circle of exclusion and marginalization. Firstly, since it has a negative impact on people’s self-esteem, which drives the downward spiral.

Secondly, because rejection hinders socio-professional reintegration. Poverty is accepted as a relentless and unchanging feature of individuals’s identity.

Discourse based on aporophobia ends in dehumanization and objectification of individuals. Its harshest version can provoke verbal or physical violence, with taunts, insults, humiliation or physical aggression.

On the opposite hand, such aggression has a serious impact on the mental health of the victimswho often experience feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, fear, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Victims of aporophobia fall right into a spiral of sadness, depression and stress as a consequence of the constant rejection they experience.

How to beat apophobia?

Adela Cortina proposes that the most effective technique to end aporophobia is thru formal and informal education (schools, universities, media and social networks). Compassion and altruism ought to be cultivated there.

For our part, we must dispel the false notion that the poor don’t have anything to supply. Cortina claims that there is no such thing as a man who wouldn’t find a way to offer something useful. If we’re unable to see it, it’s because we’d like to sharpen our vision.

Compassion and empathy are undermined once we consider that the poor are guilty for his or her misery. Therefore, to be able to achieve a more compassionate world, we must query and rethink our own belief system.

The ideology that poverty isn’t structural but indolence, individual error or personal fault encourages the perception of the poor as a threat. Thus, blaming them encourages ignoring and even persecuting them.

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