The Unchanging Stranger: A Critical Survey of the Literature



In important ways, thinking and writing about the stranger, across a range of social science disciplines, but particularly sociology, has changed remarkably little since Simmel’s classic formulation in the early part of the twentieth century. This is surprising, most obviously in the sense that one might expect our thinking about the stranger to ‘move with the times’ and reflect thinking about society in the parent discipline. But where is the postmodern stranger, the network society stranger, the postindustrial stranger, or the global stranger? Some of these figures may have been mooted at one time or another but have not had a lasting impact on studying the stranger. It is also the case that the massive influence that thinking about globalization has had on the social sciences and the way we study society is only now just starting to be reflected in our thinking about the stranger. On the whole though, the relationship between the stranger and society, formulated by Simmel in terms of one who ‘comes today and stays tomorrow’ remains largely intact, changes to the nature of community and society notwithstanding.


Public Sphere Global Context World Order Critical Survey Social Science Discipline 
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Copyright information

© Chris Rumford 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonUK

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