How to Interact with Strangers

Erin B. Taylor compares her personal experiences of interacting with strangers in London, England and Sydney, Australia in her article Hug, Hit, or Ignore? Cultural differences in dealing with strangers.  The cultural norms for interacting with strangers is very different in Sydney and London.   In London it is unacceptable to interact with any stranger on the subway even when the train stops suddenly with no explanation.  While in Sydney stranger strike up casual conversation about career goals and travel plans just about anywhere.

There is stark difference between two cities that were once ruled by the same power.  Taylor creates a theory of social code for each city and explains why each city might be the way it is.  In London and in all of England there are major social class difference when it comes to wealth and royalty.   Social norms of not interacting with strangers prevents movement among social class.  Social norms in Sydney and all of Australia are very different.  Taylor describes that “In Australia, we believe that egalitarianism and ‘mateship’ are at the core of our identity.”  The identity of ‘mateship’ might come from the common reason people first settled in Australia.  Australia was started as a colony for convicts from England.  Unlike wealth and royalty separating people in London, the fist citizens of Sydney were forced to settle because of the commonality of being convicts.  Taylor takes an anthropological view of how we treat strangers based on cultural history.