the present work discusses the construction of 'otherness' understood as a permanent elaboration of the position of the subject facing the demands of contemporary subjetivation. the notion of difference is evoked in order to deal with the subjective movement, open and unstable, in the construction process of the other and of self. the contemporary city is brought here, through the discursive production of young people, in an intervention-research project, in which about 60 youth in the city of rio de janeiro, with ages between 11 and 13, from five different institutions, were invited to talk about their relationships with the other in the city. in this project, named city workshops, the youth debated about their difficulties in living together with the other and about the conflicts and the strangeness inherent in this relationship. through the analysis of group narratives, it was possible to establish the most significant figures of 'otherness' such as 'the loner', 'the poor' and 'the fox', which, regarded here as 'scales', determine new productions of meaning in the relationship i- the other in the city. we discussed how these figures of otherness are related to conflicts produced by contemporary demands, such as, individualization and the need to be included in the consumption society.