Comparison of the Georg Simmel’s Concept of Stranger and W.E.B Du Bois’ Concept of Double Consciousness

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

According to history, W.E.B Du Bois and Georg Simmel had a tremendous impact on essential hypothesis and notions that remained established in sociology. There were two most instrumental and recognized notions fortified by either scholar according to the ideas of ‘double consciousness’ and “the stranger”.

Within my thesis, I’ll break down every one of them to generate any likenesses or discrepancies regarding either one. The similarities that will be touched on, will be the utilization of the confusing figures, which the two scholars touch on in their hypotheses and the concurring vibes on the division from traditional cultures. The distinction amongst the two hypotheses where I will be evaluating is the opinion that traditional culture holds over these confusing statistics. The stranger by Simmel is deemed valuable incorporation to civilization, while the seventh son by Du Bois is more of an impediment on civilization.

Simmel’s Concept on the Stranger

In life, we frequently obsess about the substance of our social connections with others for instance, how should I respond to my supervisor’s when he pisses me off? or what was my boyfriend reasoning behind disrespecting me in that way? When it came to Simmel, his mission was not focused on the substances that defines the types of social collaboration amongst each other and more on enlightening the mutual social forms in which a range of numerous interactions happen. For instance, for Simmel, it isn’t the requests of your domineering supervisor that are of sociological interest, but that of the collaboration that appears as a connection of power and inferiority. Theses social form that we view forming amongst workers and supervisors, and with other groups like underprivileged and prosperous, black and white, etc.

Simmel was keen on the way that a wide variety of substance could take precisely the same social composition. Collaborations amongst enterprises, relatives or groups all experience the social form of dispute regularly. On the other hand, Simmel noticed that precisely the same substance (the craving for wealth, for instance) might be communicated via an assortment of social forms (contest or conflict, for instance). By investigating the numerous methods by which we take part in social connection, Simmel viewed the sociologist as being formulating (in what he called a ‘geometry of social life’).


It’s frequently observed that a huge number of Simmel’s views are portrayed by consolidating apparent inverse into a whole. Simmel’s comprehension of the stranger might be the best demonstration of his hypothesis. The stranger is a social stance that joins the conflicting traits of remoteness and closeness. The stranger relates to the more extensive social network by the most common (and conventional) cohesions, yet it still depended on sizeable factions of folks. Due to the righteousness of the stranger’s concurrent closeness and separation from others, the stranger is usually respected for their neutralness, for having the ability to take a dissociated and impartial perspective on relationships and events. The stranger can be somebody we rely on since their social distance from us keeps them from criticizing someone too brutally.

Simmel’s essay “The Stranger” is legendary and powerful, it presents the sociological classification of the stranger and their social capacity inside factions. Corresponding to Simmel debate the stranger is unique compared to the wanderer who can come today and leave tomorrow, however someone who consistently has that potential since he doesn’t really and completely fit in. The stranger according to Simmel is inside the boundaries of society yet wasn’t so in the early starting point, besides there are no assurances that they will keep on being so. As once said by Margret Mary Wood, “The stranger is recognized as being part of a culture, yet not of the culture. Simmel portrays the stranger as someone who joins closeness and distance. The stranger closeness allows something that is distant, near, while their distance allows something close distant. They are an outsider but at the same time, an insider which is the reason they are so essential.

Simmel describes a couple of highlights of the stranger. To begin with, the stranger is versatile, they have no assets either social or material and, in this manner, has no established situation in society. In the absence of correlation or property, the stranger can travel while connecting freely with individuals from all over the world. Additional characteristic of the stranger as indicated by Simmel, is objectivity which is empowered since the stranger isn’t tied through a group’s accord and is consequently allowed to see it with no predisposition. The stranger’s impartiality enables them to be unrestricted and open, both intimate and reserved, near but far away from the individuals of the group.


The substance of something is dictated by the distance from the person. According to Simmel, ‘The Stranger’, it states if someone is excessively close to another person they are not viewed as a stranger, yet, on the off chance that they are far they wouldn’t be considered in the group. The precise distance from a group permits a person to have impartial associations with various group participants.

Social norms are what put distance between folks and groups based on nationality, culture, age, social classification, and gender. The more the social distance amongst groups and people, the less they impact one another. Emory Bogardus felt that the only way to measures the degree of closeness amongst individuals from racial, diverse group and cultural groups. Bogardus social distance scale calculates the degrees in intimacy, indifference, warmth or hostility amongst these groups. This scale was established in 1924 by Emory Bogardus and is still being used today by a psychologist.

The Tragedy of Culture

Simmel saw social culture as a rational connection amongst what he named ‘subjective culture’ and ‘objective culture.’ He comprehended ‘objective culture’ as mutual social items, like writings, artistry, beliefs and so forth, that allowed individuals to develop and metamorphosis their life. In regard to ‘subjective culture,’ it alludes to innovative and insightful parts of folks, these parts Simmel stated must be developed from the organization of external or ‘objective’ culture. Simmel hypothesized that The Tragedy of Culture, happens as civilizations modernized, and the large volumes of objective cultural items dominated the emotional capabilities of the person. Given a larger number of alternatives than someone can conceivably wish for in their lifetime, the traditional individual risks hindering their social mental growth.

Dubois Notion of Double Consciousness

Double consciousness portrays the inclination that a person has multiple social personalities, which makes it challenging to cultivate a sense of self. In Du Bois book “The Souls of Black Folk”, is where he first presented the idea of double consciousness. He felt that black Americans remained living in a society of repressive and diminished instead of equals. Simultaneously, the African American culture supported fairness and self-respect. This sort of double consciousness constrained the race to see themselves from the viewpoint of the two societies, making it hard for them to bring together their African American subculture with their general American individuality.

Du Bois accepted that this was harming to how one’s character and confidence is shaped due to pessimistic assessments and treatment of Caucasoid. The internalization of the anti-black sentiment from the external factor, their subculture starts to shape their background, because of generalizations propagated by most of the cultures. As indicated by Du Bois, these biases empower hesitation, acting critical against one’s self, and being apprehensive.

Double consciousness is an exceptionally vital theory in our society, numerous individuals of all societies want to think we live in a society free of racism. In any case, there are several hidden disparities and prejudices which is due to race, causing difficulties for African Americans to solve existing problems with double consciousness. DuBois remains to utilize his ideas of ‘the veil’ and ‘double consciousness’ to clarify the conditions in which black Americans experience inside the U.S.A and the instruments available to them to comprehend and ideally disassemble these conditions. The presence of black Americans ‘behind the veil’ of isolation is concealed from white people, unfortunately, these individuals who live behind it also move within the world of the white. These folks are aware of their lives and the working of the veil.

They also know the actions of every individual who resides on the opposite side of the veil. The double consciousness that comes from being Africans and an American offers a profound awareness into the social domain and likelihood for increasingly powerful movements against the structures of power that already exist. Simmel’s views of the stranger vs Du Bois views of double consciousness.

The dissimilarities between the two hypotheses that will be investigated, is the opinion that common society has on these puzzling figures. For Simmel, the stranger is viewed as an important expansion to society.

He feels ‘the stranger’ recommends the weirdness as psycho-social along with a geographical location. A stranger isn’t a drifter, who is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, they come today and remains. He is possibly a nomad: regardless if he hasn’t proceeded onward from the group, he has not exactly relinquished his right to remain or leave, either. He stays inside an exact location, yet he has not generally had a place with it, thus he conveys into its characteristics that don’t, and will not have a place there. He feels the stranger is a mystery: they are here, near to reach, yet, they have lately been far away but still nearby to us. The stranger is considered part of a group, like poor people, or ‘adversaries within,’ however a section whose stance is concurrently that of a stranger and a fellow. This way separateness and distance develop a feeling of closeness and harmony requires some clarification, For example, a tradesman.

On the other hand, Du Bois seventh son has been a problem for society, something to look downward on. Double consciousness was primary hypothesized by W.E.B. Du Bois. According to “The Soul of Black Folk” W.E.B. Du Bois ponders about the dilemma of not being white in America. When it comes to the concept, Du Bois states after the Greeks, Teuton, Indian, Egyptian, Mongolian and Italians, Africans are kind of a seventh son who was brought into this world with a veil and presented with second sight in the world of America. In this world, he detects that there is no self-consciousness, still, it allows him to see himself from the exposure of another world. Double consciousness is an unconventional sense, with the feeling of continually viewing yourself through the eyes of another. This allows you to measure your spirit by the world that looks on in with an entertained hatred and sympathy.

He felt that a person always feels their twoness, “a Negro or an American, two opposing spirits, two contemplations, two unreconciled strivings; two opposing views in a single dark body, with whose toughness shields them from getting destroyed’ (DU Bois, 7). Du Bois saw double consciousness as a practical model for depicting the divisions influencing the awareness of people who have an unfavorable social situation separate from the prevailing society, regardless of their sense of belonging or citizenship in society.

At first, Du Bois proposed to have the phrase depict the ‘two-ness’ that black Americans will face. That is the inclination of a black person’s individuality and an American’s individuality. He feels that blacks are rejected from the core of society, constraining them to impartiality amongst two completely different worlds. Du Bois accepts that double consciousness is essential to the examination of African American principles since it portrays an inconsistency between the everyday encounters African’s have in America and their social morals.

Black Americans can’t help but see themselves as the hatred of whites in America, which denies them of a genuine self-consciousness. Which leaves them constantly taking someone else’s perception of them as their perception. W.E.B. Du Bois felt as if blacks in Americans were pitied and not viewed as people who contribute to society and were hated. By viewing themselves from the eyes of the white Americans, forced them to suffer self-degradation.

Du Bois compositions allude to a conflicting figure which was the ‘seventh son’. The way the seventh son is utilized to symbolize African American who is expected to be extremely exceptional with a unique understanding into their identity; in addition to their situation from everyone’s stance that was surrounding them. Blacks in American has unquestionable type of opinion on society that enables them to see a precise reality about social frameworks which anyone who is in an oppressed group can’t see.


Lastly, from the start, Simmel’s views on the connection of distance to the social realm didn’t leave a legacy. This happened because he presented an assortment of theories and perceptive, as opposed to a hypothesis or technique that others may embrace. He established to his followers the significance of space to sociological reasoning and assessment, which lately have been rediscovered.


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