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Lecture

Goffman's Dramaturgical Theory

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCIOL 2S06
Professor
David Young
Semester
Winter

Description
Goffman's Dramaturgical Theory March-14-13 6:55 PM A. What is Dramaturgical Theory? B. The Role 1) Role 2) Role Performance 3) Role Distance ex/ waiter in a restaurant C. The Stage - front stage and back stage - analogy to the theatre 1) The Front Stage: an area where the social actor performs a role for an audience within the front stage, Goffman distinguished between two parts: a. the Setting = the physical scene where the social actor gives a performance for an audience ex/of the waiter: the setting would be the dining room; the audience would be all of the customers b. the Personal Front =the props and the behaviour that the audience associates with the actor in that setting; the personal front subdivides into the appearance (those items that reveal the social actor's status to the audience) and manner (tells the audience what sort of role the social actor will play) ex/ of the waiter: appearance = uniforms, the trays of food and the menus that the waiter is carrying are going to signal to the social audience that this person is the waiter and his status to the members; manner = the script is for him to be courteous, respectful, helpful and attentive 2) The Back Stage: adjacent to the front stage but it is also cut off from it -- here, the social actor can step out of the role and not be seen by the audience --> the back stage for the waiter would be the kitchen as the dining room is the setting for the front stage; here, he can stop giving a performance and does not need to be courteous and polite and complain about waiters/customers he's being nice to D. Impression Management: is an attempt by individuals to influence the views that others have of them - in the Front Stage: people attempt to generate a favourable impression; this is what people do when they are interacting with strangers and acquaintances - in the front stage, impression management takes place when people are in a job interview, a date - in the Back stage, people do not try to generate a favourable impression -> the reason for this is because they are now interacting with a different set of people who know them (friends, coworkers, family, spouse, etc) E. The Self in Dramaturgical Theory 1) Presentation of Self in Everyday Life: Goffman argued that through impression managementt, individuals try to present the self that will be accepted by others --> Goffman saw the self as the product of interaction between 1. the social actor (is going to try to give an impression that will try to present a favourable self) and 2. the audience (will interpret the self and may/may not accept the self that is presented) --> Goffman argues that most performances are accepted - there are two reasons, according to Goffman, as to why the performance is accepted 1. the social actor takes measures to help ensure a smooth performance --> does this by: preparing in advance of the social situation, tries to select a receptive audience (if possible), tries to avoid making mistakes in the performance 2. the audience sometimes has a stake in a successful performance and try to help the social actor to ensure this performance is successful --> does this by: displaying great interest in the performance, not noticing mistakes ex. on a date and you engage in impression mgmt because you want to create a favourable impression to possibly get a second date; if your date really likes you, your date might assist you displaying great interest in your performance and conveniently looking over your embarrassing moments F. Criticisms of Dramaturgical Theory After the publication of his book, there were two major criticisms: 1. Goffman offered a problematic view of people - in the view of other sociologists, Goffman depicted people in a cynical way as he was interpreted to see people are conniving and selfish --> notion of impression management suggests that we're always going around trying to manipulate other people because we want something from them (tips, job, wanting 2nd dates,etc.) 2. Goffman gave insufficient attention to structure - the concern here was that Goffman emphasized agency, personal will and personal attention in social interaction, they argued that he ignored structure (how class, status, and power affect social interaction) Let's consider a capitalist and a worker: the larger social structure that Goffman's critics say is missing is inequality --> the worker might try to impression manage the capitalist to create a favourable impression because he wants a wage increase -- while there might be some impression mgmt in the interaction here, it is going to primary be explained because the capitalist has the power over the worker (one actor has power over the other) Other Aspects of Goffman's Ideas A) Stigma: a mark or a sign of disgrace 1. Goffman's Book Stigma - he was interested the gap between what a person ought to be ("virtual social identity") and what a person is ("actual social identity"): if there is this gap between what a person ought to be and what they are, there is stigma --> they ought to be able-bodied but they experience social stigma if their identity is actually that of a disabled person; people ought to be of normal weight but they experience social stigma if their identity is actually that of a fat person - Goffman's book, Stigma, focused on a dramaturgical performance that goes on as it is this gap -- this book focuses on the dramaturgical interaction between stigmatized people
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