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Experience + Meaning: Reflecting on “The Stranger” by Alfred Schuetz

When entering a new environment or society one must adapt to the present culture and be socialized into the way things are done there. The immigrant brings with them the necessary tools to translate and adapt to the new society, which Schuetz calls “recipes”. These recipes are used to decode the new cultural patterns and adjust to the nuances in their society.

When I started a new job over the summer I was tasked with learning their codewords and adjusting to how they conduct business.  For example, a rack was called a “pony” and the bathroom was referred to as “227”. Also, when given instructions or directions, the employee must respond with “copy” instead of a simple nod of the head or “Okay”. These subtle differences is what separated an outsider or stranger with a seasoned professional.

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