SOCIOL 2S06 Lecture Notes - Erving Goffman, Social Stigma, Impression Management

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Published on 22 Apr 2013
School
McMaster University
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCIOL 2S06
Professor
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
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Document Summary

The stage - front stage and back stage: role, role performance, role distance ex/ waiter in a restaurant. 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. Criticisms of dramaturgical theory 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. After the publication of his book, there were two major criticisms: goffman offered a problematic view of people. 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)

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