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SOC483Y1 Lecture Notes - Frame Analysis, Second Cup, Dramatization

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Vanina Leschziner

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SOC483Y1 OCT 26. 2011
Goffman: 1922 born in Alberta 1982
- Wrote many books on different arenas of face to face interaction
- General interest: studied interaction in small groups; dramaturgical approach because
he uses the analogies of plays/stage
- We all formulate identities through routine actions and gestures
- Impression management strategies: we are always managing the roles that we present:
reserve certain roles for certain people and situation
- We are not lying or making up roles, the different roles we take just depend on the
context of what is appropriate
- You are still you at the bar, and in the role you take at school
- You adjust the impression you give of yourself depending on audience
- James/Schutz: there are different parts of ourselves and in different setting we stress
these different parts depending on situation/context
- give: the impression we want to give, and we explicitly try to do that
- give off: unconscious impression we give off i.e., a person wants to GIVE a confident
impression but they are nervous and sweating so they GIVE OFF a nervous and
different impression that we want
- Why do we manage our impression? Our identity is not obvious to others so a way to
convey our identity (i.e., clothing, verbal expression)
o We pick clothing to project an image of our selves, dramaturge is so important
because who we are is not obvious to others
- Front Stage: where the performance happens
- critiqued that he says people are always acting
- Back Stage: where we don’t need to project a certain image of ourselves

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- Social life/interactions don’t always have to be performed: we may act a certain way
when performing in the classroom but if we leave for a moment and run into a friend, we
don’t have to perform
2 elements to interaction for Goffman:
1. Personal identity: how we convey our personal identity
2. Definition of the situation
- a lot of dramaturgical approach has to do with managing ourselves
- frame analysis have to do with the definition of a situation: how do we manage and deal
with interactions: what we bring into the interactions and what situation is about
- situations are defined in a certain way: certain elements of it allow us to define it in a
situation way i.e., this is a class not a yoga session
- there are ways of keying: giving cues that this is a class
- we must all agree that this is the way we define this situation
Why is this important for interaction: it defines what role of ourselves we will project,
which is most appropriate for this situation
- once this situation is defined, we act in scripted ways and it happens that people will
more or less follow these rules/scripts; follow certain norms
Why do people follow these rules: disrupting behavior that is not according to these
norms, destroys the organization of interaction that every participant in it is united by, if
you disrupt this organization: you are embarrassed and other people are
embarrassed because they are no longer unified by a common organization
- Norms = common agreed upon organization of interaction
- Embarrassment: there are moments where there is a tension between projecting the
best image of yourself and maintaining the definition of the situation
o a prof is asked a very basic question and doesn’t know the answer
o could make it up save personal identity

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o can still cause embarrassment because someone might know answer or pick up
on stumbling
= embarrassment spreads
2 options:
1. Either to save personal identity (but this would complicate situation and may lead to
future embarrassment, and embarrassment might spread)
2. Save the situation: say that you’re just blanking out and can’t remember
o protect the class
- we choose one option or the other, according to Goffman when dealing with
embarrassment: we can see when people try to appease the embarrassment they are
trying to protect the situation rather than individual’s identity
Why do we want to maintain the situation:
- It’s in our benefit to enable smooth interaction
- Not everyone gets to define a situation: no we can’t all define a situation because it has
been defined in the past and there is a script attached
Why it is handy to explain the way things are going to go
- easier to navigate social life
- we also don’t always have the power to define a situation: we have roles within fixed
- some situations are fixedly defined, but in some situations we have more power in
defining the situation = unequal distribution of power
- we don’t always have a say in defining situations, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t
have some input in this definition
- we are not robots following scripts, we improvise them
- we have to share an understanding of what the situation is about but how we play will
vary depending on who we are and how we react to others and to the situation
- everyday interaction is a constant series of the negotiation of these scripts
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