Georg Simmel introduced the notion of "the stranger" as a unique sociological category. He differentiates the stranger both from the Outsider who has no specific relation to a group and from the Wanderer who comes today and leaves tomorrow.

Paul Seabright's The Company of Strangers, is a study of the importance of trust in strangers in our everyday lives.

This is a page about the function of passing strangers in carrying messages through networks. See also Journeyman:

The stranger, comes today and stays tomorrow. The stranger is a member of the group in which he lives and participates and yet remains distant from other – Native – members of the group.

The stranger is perceived as extraneous to the group and even though he is in constant relation to other group members, his “distance” is more emphasized than his “nearness.” As one subsequent interpreter of the concept put it, the stranger is perceived as being in the group but not of the group.

Writing in the presence of rampant forking calls into question What it Means to Write and how to do it well.

Because of their peculiar positions in the group, strangers often carry out special tasks that the other members of the group are either incapable or unwilling to carry out. For example, especially in pre-modern societies, most strangers were involved in trade activities. Also, because of their distance from local factions, they might also be employed as Arbitrators and even Judges.

The Athenian Stranger

Unlike most of Plato's dialogues, Socrates does not appear in the Laws: the dialogue takes place on the island of Crete, and Socrates appears outside of Athens in Plato's writings only twice, in the Phaedrus, where he is just outside the city's walls, and in the Republic, where he goes down to the seaport Piraeus five miles outside of Athens.

The conversation is instead led by an Athenian Stranger (in Greek, ξένος xenos). The Athenian Stranger, who resembles Socrates but whose name is never mentioned, joins the other two on their religious pilgrimage from Knossos to the cave of Zeus.

The entire dialogue takes place during this journey, which mimics the action of Minos: said by the Cretans to have made their ancient laws, Minos walked this path every nine years in order to receive instruction from Zeus on lawgiving.

By the end of the third book Clinias announces that he has in fact been given the responsibility of creating the laws for a new Cretan colony, and that he would like the Stranger's assistance. The rest of the dialogue proceeds with the three old men, walking towards the cave and making laws for this new city which is called the city of the Magnetes (or Magnesia).