The condition of disliking or fearing individuals or groups considered to be foreign may refer to 'groups' consisting of: an entire continent (as with anti-American or anti-European feelings); a neighbouring family of immigrants; or even migrants from another part of the country if regarded as intrusive. Xenophobia commonly takes an ethnic form and in its most extreme and widespread forms of expression may reflect the paranoid state of those in power, as it did with Hitler and Stalin.
Xenophobic attitudes and movements in a variety of countries increasingly takes the form of acts of violence with dramatic consequences. Prejudices are often exacerbated by the rise in unemployment which most industrialized countries are facing, and are supported by allegations of an economic nature (foreign workers are said to be taking jobs which could go to nationals); of a social nature (foreign workers are accused of enjoying social benefits and taking housing which could be allocated to nationals); of a moral nature (foreign workers are said to be the reason for increased violence and delinquency); and of an educational nature (the children of foreign workers are accused of slowing the progress of the classes they attend).
During the age of European explorations, expansion and colonialism, concern with the issue of race coincided with curiosity about human beings in different geographical locales. After World War II and during the accompanying period of decolonization (roughly 1945-1970), displaced persons and colonial subjects emigrated to the urban centres of the West, where they provided the cheap source of labour needed to recover from the devastation of war. Recent contractions of the world economy and economic difficulties experienced by individual countries have now led to increasing resentment toward new immigrants.
Social committees of the European Parliament have twice looked at the racist and xenophobic activity throughout Europe and concluded that it is growing worse. In 1988 Italy experienced increased violence against its rapidly growing Third World immigrant population. In 1991, the mayor of Paris suggested that the French workforce included too many "polygamous North African welfare bums". In 1992, former French President d'Estaing suggested that the country was facing an invasion of dark-skinned immigrants and prescribed the institution into citizenship of a "right of blood". In 1994 there were, conservatively, 7,780 racially motivated attacks in Britain.