Why “aporophobia”—rejection of the poor—is one of the most serious problems facing the world today, and how we can fight it
In this revelatory book, acclaimed political philosopher Adela Cortina makes an unprecedented assertion: the biggest problem facing the world today is the rejection of poor people. Because we can’t recognize something we can’t name, she proposes the term “aporophobia” for the pervasive exclusion, stigmatization, and humiliation of the poor, which cuts across xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, and other prejudices. Passionate and powerful, Aporophobia examines where this nearly invisible daily attack on poor people comes from, why it is so harmful, and how we can fight it.
Aporophobia traces this universal prejudice’s neurological and social origins and its wide-ranging, pernicious consequences, from unnoticed hate crimes to aporophobia’s threat to democracy. It sheds new light on today’s rampant anti-immigrant feeling, which Cortina argues is better understood as aporophobia than xenophobia. We reject migrants not because of their origin, race, or ethnicity but because they seem to bring problems while offering nothing of value. And this is unforgivable in societies that enshrine economic exchange as the supreme value while forgetting that we can’t create communities worth living in without dignity, generosity, and compassion for all. Yet there is hope, and Cortina explains how we can overcome the moral, social, and political disaster of aporophobia through education and democratic institutions, and how poverty itself can be eradicated if we choose.
In a world of migrant crises and economic inequality, Aporophobia is essential for understanding and confronting one of the most serious problems of the twenty-first century.
“Straddling moral philosophy, psychology, and semantics, this is a book of sweeping ambition. Adela Cortina argues that the greatest dangers in the world arise from scourges that are unnamed. Combining clarity with kindness, the book seeks to retrofit us with a new lens to view the poor and the marginalized of the world, the first step to ending poverty. Read it.”—Kaushik Basu, Cornell University
“A hatred of the poor and a general disdain for those with less is the most pernicious everyday discrimination of our age. As Adela Cortina so lucidly explains, this hatred fuels prejudices against groups such as migrants and the homeless while the rich are celebrated. A book to read to understand how we have been taught to welcome those we have to work for, while rejecting those who might work with us.”—Danny Dorling, University of Oxford
“Cortina exposes one of the most deep-rooted and overlooked moral conflicts of our time, not only to give it a name but also to force us to recognize it and to provide us with the tools to face it.”—Stella Villarmea, Complutense University of Madrid
“We celebrate success and believe in merit, while we are afraid of scarcity and are full of scorn for the poor. Cortina studies the history and implications of these judgments and gives it a name: aporophobia—rejection of the poor. Aporophobia goes beyond classism and justifies words and acts against immigrants, refugees, the unhoused, and social safety nets. A timely and important book for scholars and the public.”—Ernesto Castañeda, American University
About the Author:
Adela Cortina is professor emerita of ethics and political philosophy at the University of Valencia in Spain, and the author of many books, including Cosmopolitan Ethics and For an Ethics of Consumption.