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Journal Article

The Stranger: An Essay in Social Psychology

Alfred Schuetz
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 49, No. 6 (May, 1944), pp. 499-507
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2771547
Page Count: 9
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The Stranger: An Essay in Social Psychology
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Abstract

The cultural pattern peculiar to a social group functions for its members as an unquestioned scheme of reference. It determines the strata of relevance for their "thinking as usual" in standardized situations and the degree of knowledge required for handling the tested "recipes" involved. The approaching stranger, however, does not share certain basic assumptions which alone guarante the functioning of these recipes. He has to place in question what seems unquestionable to the in-group and cannot even put his trust in a vague knowledge about the general style of the pattern but needs explicit knowledge of its elements. This entails a dislocation of the stranger's habitual system of relevance. A thorough modification of his schemes of orientation and interpretation and of his concepts of anonymity, typicality, and chance is the prerequisite of any possible adjustment.

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