Double Identity In The Stranger, By George Simmel

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The Stranger is an essay in sociology originally written by George Simmel. It was written as an excursus in his book Soziologie, for a chapter dealing with sociology of space. In this essay, Simmel introduced the idea of “the stranger” as a unique sociological category. He explains the difference of the stranger and compares it to both the “outside” who has no specific relation to a group and from the “wanderer” who is one that may come today but will leave tomorrow.
Simmel states that the stranger is one who comes today and stays tomorrow. The stranger is classified as a member of a group in which he lives and participates but will remain to himself around other members of the same group. In comparison of social distance and difference (i.e.
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Double consciousness is a concept that Du Bois first explores in the 1903 publication, “The Souls of Black Folk”. Double consciousness explains each individual’s sensation of feeling as through his or her identity. Divided into several parts, making it hard or sometimes impossible to have one unified identity. Du Bois spoke of this due to the context of race relations with in the United States. He spoke that since African Americans have lived in a society that has historically subdued and devalued them as persons of worth that is has become more difficult for them to unify their black identity with their American identity. Double consciousness forces African Americans to not only segregate themselves from their own unique perspective, but also view themselves as they could be perceived by the outside (white American) world. Du Bois spoke of this when he referenced about “the sense of looking at one’s self through the eyes of another’s”. As a result, the black race sometimes can suffer from a damaged self-image shaped by the perceptions and actions towards the treatment of white people. Black life can easily become formed by stereotypes perceptions and treatment of white people, which in turn those stereotypes perpetuate mainstream culture. According to Du Bois the prejudices of white people draw out “self- questioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals” amount black people. Through the
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