In phenomenology, the terms the Other and the Constitutive Other each identify a cumulative, constituting factor in the self-image of a person—the acknowledgement of being real. As such, the Other is dissimilar to and the opposite of the Self, of Us, and of the Same. Otherness, the characteristics of the Other, is the state of being different from and alien to the social identity of a person and to the identity of the Self. Another way of describing "The Other" is to portray oneself at the centre of focus and "The Other" on the outside.
In Waldo Tobler’s first law in geography, he stated that everything is related somehow to everything else but things in closer proximity are more related than other things that are further apart. This means that when two things are further apart they share less association than things that are closer in proximity. This law can be applied when discussing the process of "othering" in different ways.
A cultural example of othering is when individuals that identify closely with their own ethnic or religious beliefs begin to gain the mentality that those who are different from them are problematic. This can lead to extreme separation, alienation, and exclusion of the person or of people that is seen as different or unusual to the typical lens of one's societal views. Othering can be described as discrimination of people or a population that is different than the collective social norm; since they are different they are also seen as deviant or in need of being cultured by the group that is othering them.
In relation to the Self, the Constitutive Other is the relation between the essential nature (person) and the outward manifestation (personality) of a human being. In a binary perspective of the essential and of the superficial characteristics of personal identity, each personal characteristic is the inverse of an opposite characteristic. The difference is inner-difference, within the Self.
In the discourse of philosophy, the term "Otherness" refers to and identifies the characteristics of the Who and What of the Other. These characteristics are distinct and separate from the Symbolic order of things, from the Real (the authentic and unchangeable), from the æsthetic (art, beauty, taste), from political philosophy, from social norms and social identity, and from the Self.
Therefore, the condition of "Otherness" is a person’s non conformity to and with the social norms of society and to the condition of disenfranchisement (political exclusion), either by the activities of the State or by the activities of the social institutions (e.g. the professions), which are respectively invested with political and social Power. Therefore, in the condition of "Otherness", the person is alienated from the center of society and is placed at the societal margin for being the Other.
The Other can also be used a verb which is described as Othering. It is a usage that distinguishes and identifies (labels) someone as belonging to a category, defined as "Other". In practice, Othering excludes those persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self. Similarly, in the field of Human geography, the verbal action term to Other refers to and identifies the action of placing someone outside the center of the social group, at the margins, where the social norms do not apply to the Other person.