Introduction: When Neighbours Become Strangers
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According to Zygmunt Bauman, the most cited contemporary commentator on the stranger, each society ‘produces its own kind of strangers, and produces them in its own inimitable way’ (Bauman, 1997: 17). This book takes issue with this statement, not because it is wrong in any fundamental way, but because it doesn’t go far enough. Firstly, Bauman doesn’t take sufficiently into account the global dimension. Even a cursory awareness of the multiplicity of transformations bundled under the heading ‘globalization’ make it increasingly difficult to defend the idea that societies are discrete, self-contained and easily bounded. Expressed in slightly different terms, in a world of flows and networks driven by communication technology, on the one hand, and a whole range of mobile individuals on the other, it is difficult to maintain the fiction that one society can remain insulated from others. Secondly, it perpetuates the notion that in order to study the stranger we need to study individuals who are outsiders, or at least clearly marked off from mainstream society. Strangers do still exist but — and this is one of the central arguments advanced in the book — they are best understood within the context of a more generalized condition of societal strangeness in which differentiating ‘us and them’ is increasingly problematic.
KeywordsIllegal Immigrant Global Connectivity Global Consciousness Mystery Shopper Global Linkage
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