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Lecture 8

SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Conflict Theories, Social Exchange Theory, Ethnomethodology

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Sheldon Ungar

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Lecture 8 – Goffman
Play: “Look Back in Angerby John Osborne
The play was written by an angry young man that came back from the war.
-Why was the play done on class a failure?
Because the people presenting it weren’t actors, didn’t know what the play was about and had no
rehearsal time. They just went up and read it.
-How does it differ from everyday self-presentation?
Every day we practise the way we portray ourselves in front of others, more polished presentation
Dramatic impact
In presenting yourself to others is all about making a dramatic impact
You must display correct feelings
e.g. Index finger vs. middle finger – different impact if you use other finger, always give the right
finger (remember the finger).
-Your emotion should be deep enough, not just a glaze or on surface, but must go deep at least a few
Successful Interaction is not a given it’s an accomplishment
-An interaction should not feel overly self-conscious or on”.
e.g. 1 Glen Hall (Chicago Blackhawks) He was a great goalie but he got so nervous he would throw up
before every game.
e.g. 2 Pack Morrow (one of the few Canadians that has climbed the 7 peaks) is more nervous before a
lecture than climbing Mount Everest
Places you would feel self-conscious at:
-place you don’t belong to-around strangers
-being tested challenged-in a new situation
-around famous people or high status others- job interview
-committing illegal acts -on a first date
-coordinate acts
Mutual understanding must exist.
I don’t understand what you say I pretend I do and it fill in later, hopefully it will
A: I have a child”
B: Thats ok” This conversation makes no sense out of context.
A: I have a dog” The conversation takes place between a landlord (B) and a prospective
B:Oh I’m sorry” tenant (A)
-being in” role
When a doctor tells you to undress and examines you, he cant just look at you up and down he must stay
in role and treat u like a slab of meat
-vs. breakdown
-Infractions: saying the wrong things, breaking norms

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Accomplishing social order
-Harold Garfinkel
Ethnomethodology: (ethno the folks) method of the folks
-Violations of rules, breaching
-Get people to violate rules and see what happens
-Seinfeld is a close talker he violates personal space (not supposed to)
-Uncover hidden norms
-Conversation as a gloss
-Emotional response matters most
e.g. In a bar music with the music blasting you cant hear the other person so how do you carry
the conversation on? You keep smiling! Its the presence of the other person and the emotional response
what matters not what the person is saying
1.-Experimenter asks subjects to take conversations into high detail
2.-Instead of bargaining, asking to raise the price
3.-Act like a complete stranger in your house
Rituals to Enact or Accomplish Order
Affirm both selves rather than threaten
Greeting rituals:
-Attenuation rule: To someone you see every day 5 days a week and many times, you say hi to everyday
once. On Mondays i.e. after not seeing that person for a while you ask how was their weekend and do
small talk, its perfunctory still but it is more than hi.
-Holding door opens, offering seats
-Talking to strangers during events like waiting for the bus, storms and strange events
-You see someone you think you know and then you them because you will feel bad if they don’t
recognize you or if their dodge you
-When you greet someone the strength of the greeting depends on how long you have been without seeing
Parting rituals:
-Movie: Harry meets Sally
-After you have sex with someone how long does the guy have to hold the girl for before he can leave
-Party: Quite often you want to leave early but it usually takes some time to leave because of social
compromises. Techniques: Excuses like I have somewhere else to go after or I have work tomorrow
morning” so then you have your leave when you need to; a phone call that saves you. When one person
leaves everyone else takes the chance and starts leaving.
-You must then negotiate future access we should get together soon. If you dont agree to get together
at a certain time you should make it look as you really want to.
Minor Infractions
Cross cultural infractions
-In many culture eating with the left hand is not ok (it is for bathroom behaviour)

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-Feet on table
-Hand signals: Index finger calling (used to call animals). Thumbs up in Australia and Nigeria it means
up yours. Hand in stop motion in West Africa it means that you are a bastard and you have 5 fathers
Embarrassment Versus “civil disattention”
-Eating spinach or onions before going out or on a date
-Spitting on someone while talking
-Fly undone, how do you tell someone without making them embarrassed? You are flying low
-Going into the wrong washroom
Ritual Work
Infractions (making a mistake) Accounts (making up for it)
- If someone makes a bad remark about your country, family or something dear to you (infraction) they
must give account for it
-Other infractions: running into someone and knocking their stuff
Script for accounts?
Overall script:
-Apology or explanation
-Offer or provide help i.e. do sufficient ritual/remedial work
-Show that you mean it
Remedial Work:
-displays membership
-affirms both selves vs. discrediting both
e.g. knocking a bag and helping to pick it up vs. going on like it didn’t happen
Emotional Energy Hypothesis
-Most interaction causes an increment of positive emotional energy.
-Negative outcomes and feelings are inevitable since there is enough negatives in life to go round.
e.g. car breaks down, significant other cheats on you, you fail an exam, have an argument with your
-Thus, you need positive emotions to strike a balance.
e.g. getting good grades, landing a job, making a team, scoring a date
Goffman and Self-presentation
-You must present yourself well to get dates, marriage, work and others but you must not present yourself
too high or too low
-concerned with expressive/ceremonial order
- relate to organizations/institutions weve studies (e.g. Military against drugs)
-test: How many people are crappy in Math? (hands up) cooking? (hands up) in bed? (no hands)
-As if actors on a stage engaged in a performance
-Have as many selves as roles that matter
-Goffman challenges the idea of a stable self, it all depends on how formal you are defining the self
Dramaturgical Metaphor
-Quote from As you like it by Shakespeare:
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