Double Consciousness and the Stranger Essay examples

Words: 1543
Pages: 7

Throughout history, Georg Simmel and W.E.B. Du Bois have had a significant influence on important theories and ideas developed in the Social Sciences. Perhaps two of the most relevant and well-known concepts developed by both of these theorists are the concepts of “double consciousness” and “the stranger”. In this paper I will be analyzing both of these pieces of work to draw upon differences and similarities between the two. The similarities I will be elaborating on are the usage of the paradoxical figure, which both Simmel and Du Bois discuss in their theories, and the coexisting feeling of division from mainstream society. The difference between the two theories that I will be exploring is the perception that mainstream society has of …show more content…
The stranger comes into contact with members of groups defined by connection through locality and trade, but remains outside any particular group. In some ways, Du Bois’ conceptualization of double consciousness and Simmel’s theorization of “the stranger” parallel each other. Firstly, both of these concepts were social-psychological in nature, meaning they addressed issues dealing with the behaviour of groups and the influence of social factors on individuals. Secondly, they both use a paradoxical figure in their analyses, which experience a conflicting sense of remoteness yet nearness both at the same time; the seventh son and the stranger. They both emphasized the sense of otherness that prevents these paradoxical figures from finding a sense of self. The stranger experiences a “peculiar tension” caused by the inorganic attachment to the group, yet the involvement the stranger has in the society allows them to feel as though they truly belong. Similarly, the seventh son experiences a sense of belongingness, given that they reside in a locality, but a feeling of separation due to the fact that they are not fully seen as member of a group. When thinking about these points, two questions arise: can African Americans really be considered Americans if they are never guaranteed all of the rights that white Americans are? In regards to the stranger: can the individual really