Throughout history, Georg Simmel and W.E.B. Du Bois have had a substantial influence on imperative theories and concepts developed in the area of social sciences. Two of the most significant and distinguished concepts fostered by both of these theorists are the concepts of “double consciousness” and “the stranger”. In this essay, I will be analyzing each of these works to draw upon differences and similarities concerning the two. The resemblances I will be expanding on are the usage of the paradoxical figure, which both theorists discuss in their theories, and the coexisting sensation of division from conventional society. The contrast between the two theories in which I will be exploring is the perception that conventional society holds on these paradoxical figures. In Simmel works of the stranger, is seen as a beneficial addition to our society. But on the other hand, in Du Bois work of the seventh son is viewed more as a liability on society.
The idea of double consciousness was first conceptualized by W.E.B. Du Bois. In his writing “The Souls of Black Folk” Du Bois reflects on the subjective consequences of being black in America. On the concept, Du Bois says: “After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” (Hamilton, 2003).
Du Bois perceived double consciousness as a conceptual model for depicting the divisions influencing the consciousness of individuals which are in unfavorable social arrangements outside their dominant culture, regardless of their citizenship or freedom to live within that society. Initially, Du Bois anticipated having the term express the “two-ness” that African Americans face (Hamilton, 2003). That is, the feeling of an African identity, as well as an American identity. He believed that African Americans are fundamentally excluded from the heart of society, causing them to navigate or walk between the two societies.
Du Bois considered that double consciousness is imperative to the exploration of black American culture because it illustrates how contradiction between the day-to-day experiences blacks in America has, to include their social values. Blacks recognize themselves through the simplified contempt of white America, and as a result, they were denied the concept of true self-consciousness. They viewed themselves as if...