The future of the stranger: Jewish exemplarity and the social imagination

Jakob Egholm Feldt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article shows how Jewish social strangeness is a key notion for a trajectory of theorizing from Moses Hess’ socialist and nationalist thought in the middle of the nineteenth century to American pragmatist sociology early in the twentieth century. It situates “the Jewish stranger” on the transmission lines of trajectories of thought pertaining to Jewish exemplarity, and it explores how this Jewish exemplarity was transformed toward new future horizons for Jews but also for the generalized “stranger.” It is argued that the Jewish exemplarity perspective itself represented a subtle redirection of strong Kantian and Hegelian anti-Jewish historical teleologies via an alternative “processual” historical logic. “Jewish strangers” both bear and are borne by the totality of social imagination in society, both agents of but also bound by history. In this way, the exemplarity of the European Jews illuminates the process of the becoming of “the stranger” as a historical and social role within boundaries set by a coinciding of history and teleology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)225-243
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Exemplarity
  • Georg Simmel
  • Moses Hess
  • Processual teleology
  • Robert Park
  • Social imagination
  • Temporality

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