Methodological approaches to studying social type ‘the stranger’ in the heritage of G. Simmel, A. Schutz

  • V. V. Gusak Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: social type «stranger», process of typification of the Other, self-typification, system of knowledge, «cultural pattern», notion of «home», crisis of habitual thinking, strangeness


The article is dedicated to comparison of methodological approaches to studying the social type of ‘the stranger’ in theories of Georg Simmel and Alfred Schutz. In the article, comparative analysis is performed, and similarity and development in the methodological approaches of the theoreticians towards studying of the issue of the stranger are analyzed. In Simmel’s theory, the stranger is analyzed as a universal instrument of typification of an personality (the Other) in interaction. In the phenomenological approach of Schutz, the stranger type is viewed as an instrument for overcoming the problem of crisis of customary thinking of an personality in a typical situation. The approaches of the theoreticians to revealing specific nature of interaction of the stranger and the group are compared. The article reveals the role of spatial coordinates in the process of typification. It also shows typical differences between the stranger and a member of the group / group the stranger intends to become closer to. Specifics of identifying the social type ‘the stranger’ is also revealed. The article clarifies specifics of perception of the stranger by the group and perception of the stranger. The role of the cultural pattern of the group in the process of typification and self-typification of personality is revealed. Significance of shared and not shared experience of perception of the Other and also influence of obtained unshared experience with we-group (‘native’ group) on identification, influence of obtained experience on transformation of perception of the Other and self-perception of an personality in time coordinates are shown. The role of reversibility of internal time in gaining new experience in the process of typification is analyzed. It is revealed that Schutz, like Simmel, views strangeness as an instrument of world interpretation in general. Both theoreticians also show that the position of the stranger is typical in daily interaction.  The article shows that growth of individualization, increase of the number of groups, expansion of spatial coordinates an individual enters and interacts in to which Simmel points actualize universality of the stranger type. It is revealed that such changes in the society, as a result, are characterized by special perception of the Other, growing alienation of one individual from the other, depersonalization of the individual at interaction. The article shows that Schutz’s generic natural of the stranger’s position is linked to the problem of crisis of customary way of thinking, complex process of adoption of new systems of relevance and schemes of knowledge at entry of an individual into a new group.  Common patterns of further transformations of the stranger type / notion of strangeness in sociological theory through the example of Zygmunt Bauman’s life strategies of an personality are characterized. The article reveals that Simmel’s form of the stranger blended into the current reality and became legitimate through legitimation of the very process of transitivity from circle to circle.


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How to Cite
Gusak, V. V. (2018). Methodological approaches to studying social type ‘the stranger’ in the heritage of G. Simmel, A. Schutz. Scientific and Theoretical Almanac Grani, 21(8), 20-29.