In the final decades of the 20th century, issues such as identity, Otherness and the role of social and cultural boundaries have been prominent in social theory, sociology and cultural studies. In this context, an analysis of Bauman's work is important because it raises pertinent questions pertaining to the nature of social and cultural boundaries and the nature of boundary construction under modernity. The metaphors of inside and outside and the idea of the boundary are significant in Bauman's critique of modernity's search for a meta-order and in his examination of strangerhood. The article illustrates how this ordering process manifests itself at the individual and societal levels of modernity. Bauman's contention is that modernity's search for a meta-order leads to the construction of boundaries and to exclusionary practices. It is the presence of the Third, for Bauman, which threatens the certainty of order. Different images of the stranger in Bauman's work are identified and the ways in which Bauman's conception of freedom and `community' is intrinsically linked to his work on the ambivalent stranger are demonstrated.