Volume 14, 2022
Phenomenology of the Stranger
The Relational Concept of Strangeness
The essay presents a relational concept of the stranger parting from and at the same time going beyond Alfred Schutz’s famous and controversial conception of “The Stranger.” Not only the subjective viewpoint of the stranger entering an in‑group – as in the Schutzian outline – is relevant for the construction of strangeness, but also the interactional context and the receiving in‑group with its respective patterns of culture. For strangeness is a relational concept, it is only constructed in relationships of individuals and groups; it is an ascription or “label” that is activated in interaction processes. Within in‑ and out‑group constellations, the stranger is objectified by social typification, which may be based on a de‑subjectivation and reification of the respective Other. Relational strangeness refers to the diverse possibilities of the social construction of the stranger, always taking into consideration the individuals involved in in‑ and out‑group relations.