Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.
strangerany person who is within a group or society but not entirely of that group of society. SIMMEL (Wolff. 1950) suggests three aspects of the social position of the stranger which define it in sociological terms:
- the position of the individual on the margin, part inside and part outside the group (see also MARGINALITY);
- a particular combination of remoteness and proximity (or SOCIAL DISTANCE) between the stranger and group members;
- various further implications of the ROLE of the stranger and his or her interactions with the group which make this position of particular sociological interest.
A key feature of the role of the stranger identified by Simmel is the relative ‘detachment’ and ‘objectivity’ which he or she may bring, e.g. in settling disputes. This arises, according to Simmel, because the stranger ‘imports qualities into the group which do not stem from the group’. This explains why the stranger also often meets with surprising openness and confidences. All of this applies, notwithstanding that strangers who arrive in large numbers, with their own cultures and groups, will often be mistrusted and may become persecuted members of the societies which they enter. However, even the individual stranger may become mistrusted, and be seen as a possible threat to group beliefs, e.g. in situations where his or her own ‘vested interest’ may be involved (see Schermer, 1988).
What does it mean when you dream about a stranger?
From a Freudian perspective, a stranger in a dream may symbolize meeting a part of one’s own psyche, or shadow self. According to an ancient Chinese belief, a stranger in one’s dream is another soul from the spirit realm.