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Sociology 2234E Lecture Notes - Flag Of Canada, Homelessness, Georg Simmel

Course Code
SOC 2234E
Lesley Harman

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The Stranger
This lecture is about the social interaction between strangers.
Simmel: wrote a famous essay on the stranger in 1908
Simmel was from a small down where everyone knew when a stranger came into
-The wondering merchant came to be the image of the stranger
-Simmel came up with the concept of the “potential wanderer”
- Always male patriarchal society
- There were a few types of female strangers but they were typically absent from
literature. The two types of female strangers were 1) Street Walkers bad girls 2)
Anthropologists who were travellers it was unusual for women to get an advanced
degree at this time and so there was not much study done on this group
A third type of stranger emerged for study In the 1980s
Three social demographic trends that merged to make the bag lady (stranger) in the
1) Battered women’s movement – women were encouraged to leave abusive
relationships, however, battered women’s shelters wre often filled up so these
women had no place to go
2) Gentrification happens in Down Town gores of major urban centers. The
cheapest housing is often located in the down town area. In the 1980s slums were
being bought up and turned into office space and condos. The people who relied on
the cheap rent no longer had housing
3) De-incarceration many mental health facilities began to empty. It was cheaper
to change your patients from inpatients to out patients. However, there was no
safety net provided for these women. Where do they get jobs? Identification?
Professor Harman interviewed homeless women in Toronto. 50% of them had
previously been incarcerated (in jail or a mental hospital)
Schutz wrote about the stranger in 1944. He wrote about soldiers returning home
after the war to find that trustworthy knowledge recipes no longer worked.
You are a stranger when you don’t know the “taken for granted” rules of
First week orientation at university is about building connections students are
supposed to no longer be strangers at the end of the week. Orientation is about
building a community and creating membership.
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