Living in the Margins


When people leave their communities to live in others, they become marginal to both communities. Learning new ways and modifying or relinquishing old ones becomes a way of thinking, feeling and acting. This has been happening with greater frequency in modern times since early 19th century. By mid 20th century in the United States, the changing kinds and resources of communities have yielded an increasing number of short-lived marginal experiences for an ever-greater number of people who periodically leave and enter one community after another—schools, jobs, neeighborhoods, cities—as part of their life experience. Marginality is overcome by learning the language and habits of the new community. Some people either hold themselves back or are held back from entering into the life of the community. When numbers of more durably marginal people become greater, the wellbeing and strength of the community declines.

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Correspondence to Harold J. Bershady.

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Bershady, H.J. Living in the Margins. Soc 57, 301–307 (2020).

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  • Double marginality
  • Community
  • Cultural melding immigrant
  • Inclusion vs. exclusion
  • Life pattern
  • Long term vs. short term marginality
  • “One’s own” vs. “the other”
  • Psychology of marginality
  • Society and community