People who we don't know, who are different, can easily be perceived as the enemy. The history of the concept of 'the other' is characterized by the dehumanisation of the other. If a person is not part of my group, whatever the identity of that group is, this person is perceived as 'other'. A simple reasoning goes as follows: if you are not with me, if you are other, you must be against me. And since you are against me, I will not grant you the humanity I grant people of my group and myself. And so 'others' easily become enemies. The concept of other and of enemy is different in different cultures. The dehumanisation of the enemy occurs at all times and in many places. That is why the UDHR emphasizes that human rights are to be respected at all times in all places. In this study I want to focus on more trivial interactions between people in their day-to-day lives. Even without the concept of 'the other' as enemy, we dehumanise each other all the time, purely for survival's sake. As Buber pointed out, we 'make an 'It' of each other'. In my own terms I would say that we relate to another person in such a case as 'not-You'. Between the You and the not-You people make many distinctions and create identities in the complex social fabric that determines day-to-day lives. Therefore You and not-You can be understood as a dimension through which we change shape for one another through time.
The 'other' changes shape
I become more aware of my presence in the world because I notice that another person perceives my presence. In the light of this study it makes sense to call attention to the fact that through this evolution we have also changed shape for each other. 'The other' has acquired more and more identities over time. In general terms it is clear that the variety of divisions of labour, the development of science and technology, urbanization and globalisation have changed how people perceive each other because of professional roles, hierarchies in administration, the invasion of the body by technology, living together in urban environments with large groups of people surrounded by technologies of transportation and the infrastructures of electricity, gas and water and the many mediated presences of other people. In this study I will not pose the 'chicken and egg' question as to what triggered what developments; is it technology, the way money evolved, the impact of the media, the context of power structures or whatever, which made our societies what they are today. This study takes the variety of 'others' as a starting point in their mixed and blurred realities, as they are perceived in contemporary modern city life.