The Stranger: A Study in Social Relationships

By Margaret Mary Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF MEETING

I. THE DEGREE OF MOBILITY

IN the preceding chapters something of the manner in which the social structure of the group determines in what ways the stranger is received has been noted. The fundamental principle of unification of the racial or national groups to whom the interacting persons belong was seen to determine certain of the broader characteristics of the initial relationships. Other somewhat less general attributes were observed to depend more directly upon the nature of the local pattern of social organization of the particular type of community which the stranger had entered than upon the bonds of national or racial allegiance. There are, however, other factors than those immediately involved in the social organization of the group which may also have an important bearing on the relationship of the stranger. To illustrate, although the nature of the social structure of any particular group lends relative permanence and stability to the general form of the relationship of the stranger within that group, the exact contour which is assumed by any specific instance of this relationship is also dependent upon the conjuncture of circumstances which are present when the contact occurs. Each relationship is therefore the resultant of a number of factors which belong in part to the social organization of the group and in part to special conditions of the meeting which are never precisely the same for any two contacts. This latter category comprises an endless variety of factors which defy classification, but from among which it is possible

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