Ethnic stereotype  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
White people in a caféIllustration: L'Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas
White people in a café
Illustration: L'Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas

"What’s heaven? Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss.

So then, what’s hell? Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and the bankers are Italian." [...]

"German toilets are really the key to the horrors of the Third Reich. People who can build toilets like this are capable of anything."--Fear of Flying (1973) by Erica Jong

"Reel Bad Arabs (2006), The Slanted Screen (2006) and Inventing the Indian (2012) criticize racism and racial stereotypes in cinema."--Sholem Stein

Related e



An ethnic stereotype (national stereotype, or national character) or racial stereotype involves part of a system of beliefs about typical characteristics of members of a given ethnic group or nationality, their status, societal and cultural norms.

National stereotypes may relate either to one's own ethnicity/nationality or to a foreign or differing nationality or ethnicity. Stereotypes about one's own nation may aid in maintaining a national identity due to a collective relatability to a trait or characteristic.

Ethnic stereotypes have been a theme in the arts, as in National Conveniences: Four Ways of Shitting (1796) by James Gillray which depicts how the various nationalities defecate.


Ethnic stereotype

An ethnic stereotype is a simplified and often misleading representation of an ethnic group, composed of what are thought to be typical characteristics of members of a given ethnic group. These images of a particular group are used to communicate underlying messages about status, society and cultural norms.

Ethnic stereotypes are commonly portrayed in ethnic jokes, most of which usually considered to be offensive in various degrees.

Jokes of the kind "heaven is where the police are British" (see left) are considered funny because they are realistic caricatures of various cultures, and the pervasiveness of such jokes stems from the significant cultural differences.

Ethnic stereotypes can sometimes reinforce positive values that will benefit one group over another. Such as the typical American hero of Hollywood who will intelligently triumph against all odds.

Various anti-national phobias and prejudices operate with ethnic stereotypes.


According to an article by The Guardian entitled European stereotypes: what do we think of each other and are we right? - interactive, the Europe stereotype towards Britain is as "drunken, semi-clad hooligans or else snobbish, stiff free marketers", their view towards France is "cowardly, arrogant, chauvinistic, erotomaniacs", and they see Germany as "uber-efficient, diligent [and] disciplined". To Europe, Italy is "tax-dodging, Berlusconi-style and mama's boys, incapable of bravery", Poland is "heavy-drinking ultracatholics with a whiff of antisemitism", and Spain is "macho men and fiery woman prone to regular siestas and fiestas". While some countries such as Germany proudly own their stereotype, others like Spain argue that theirs is a warped view based on experiences while on holiday instead of having actually lived there.

A Pew Global survey of the European countries Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, and the Czech Republic found that European stereotypes found Germany to be both the most hardworking and least corrupt, Greece to be the least hardworking, and Italy to be the most corrupt. It is also worth noting that 5 out of the 8 countries thought their own country was the most corrupt.

Pictural representations

Yanko Tsvetkov has designed many maps which serve as pictorial representations of such stereotypes, giving an impression of how certain regions of the world may view others. They have named such as "The Arab Winter" and "Crystal Ball View Of Europe In 2022".

By region


Identify national and/or ethnic stereotypes by way of the population's countercultures, its avant-garde, its underground, its subcultures and its taste in the erotic and horror genres.

Anti-national sentiment


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ethnic stereotype" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools