Double Consciousness and the Stranger Essay

1565 Words Oct 31st, 2010 7 Pages
Throughout history, Georg Simmel and W.E.B. Du Bois have had a significant influence on important theories and ideas developed in the Social Sciences. Perhaps two of the most relevant and well-known concepts developed by both of these theorists are the concepts of “double consciousness” and “the stranger”. In this paper I will be analyzing both of these pieces of work to draw upon differences and similarities between the two. The similarities I will be elaborating on are the usage of the paradoxical figure, which both Simmel and Du Bois discuss in their theories, and the coexisting feeling of division from mainstream society. The difference between the two theories that I will be exploring is the perception that mainstream society has of …show more content…
He is fixed within a certain spatial circle- or within a group whose boundaries are analogous to spatial boundaries- but his position within it is fundamentally affected by the fact that he does not belong in it initially and that he brings qualities into it that are not, and cannot be, indigenous to it” (Simmel, 143). Simmel defines the stranger as one that is both close and far; that is physically close, but socially distant. He disassociates his concept from the understanding of the stranger as one who comes and goes. Rather, the stranger he speaks of in this case is one who comes and stays, but has not been socialized under the same conditions as mainstream society. Despite this, the stranger is not a person who is withdrawn from society and is unaware of social norms. Rather, someone is inorganically appended to the society, but still an organic member of the group (ibid, 149). The stranger is seen as and valuable member of society because it is, in no way connected to any one individual. The stranger holds a certain objectivity, and can be confessed to without the threat of judgment on the confessor (ibid, 145). Simmel believes that the role of stranger is historically related to certain forms of economic interaction, particularly trade. Because the role of the stranger is never the
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