The uses of the stranger: circulation, arbitration, secrecy and dirt
Sage Publications, Inc.
312 - 330
Item Usage Stats
MetadataShow full item record
Little attention has been paid to the role of strangers in the social division of labor that is otherwise a key concept in sociological theory. Partly drawing upon Simmel, this article develops a general framework for analyzing the "uses" of "the stranger" throughout history. Four major domains in which strangers have often been employed are identified: (1) circulation (of goods, money, and information); (2) arbitration; (3) management of secret/sacred domains; and (4) "dirty jobs," The article also explores how these activities relate to the characteristics of stranger-relations. It is suggested that such an inquiry, in addition to helping us to understand how the presence of strangers in a society affects the processes of social differentiation, might equip us with a conceptual framework often lacking from purely political and ethical considerations of stranger-relations. © American Sociological Association.