AGENCY & POWER
We're going to look at subjectivity from an interpretive perspective (not weberian) as opposed to looking at
subjectivity structurally as we did with Althusser & Wolﬀ. Goﬀman's interpretive perspective is more agential in
reference to social institutions.
1. the social situation
2. microprocesses of power
Goﬀman marries Georg Simmel and Emile Durkheim.
- takes from Simmel the face to face embodied experience that is foundational
- incorporates some of durkheim's arguments: deﬁnes social action very narrowly: what happens uniquely in a
social situation, the environment or setting where two or more are physically in one another's response presenc▯.
telephone and mail are very diﬀerent
- he focuses on the visual (what then of the blind? and online spaces?)
- telephone and mail still require a response, but it isn't the same as being co-present.
you could talk to anyone you pass in hub mall or passing by on the street, so this is a way you are interacting:
through body language, style of dress, facial expression, your hair, anything you may say, etc.
it is that physical presence of other people.
the interaction is diﬀerent than weber because it involves the way people are doing things and saying thins and
acting in physical space versus weber which has a lot more to do with how it is people are interpreting other people
which means they don't have to be with someone for social action to occur ie i can buy roses for beth and imagine
her response without her there and buying those roses is still a social action. what goﬀman is talking about requires
face to face interaction.
ﬁve types of social situations:
1. AMBULATORY UNITS: ie funeral procession
2. CONTACTS: conversation; audience member; when you get to a party and people come give you a hug; or you
show up to class late and you kind of nod at your friends, even though you don't say anything. people do not
contribute equally, even though they are in contact (no one in an audience is supposed to equally contribute to
the play). Brief encounters too.
3. CONVERSATIONAL ENCOUNTERS: going to the bank; making out (doesn't require you say anything, it is
still conversational because both people at anytime can contribute equally).
4. PLATFORM PERFORMANCES: formal meetings; going to a movie. Like a lecture. In a movie or formal
meeting, you are not interacting with the people on the screen or the person holding forth, but you are
interacting with the other spectators.
5. SOCIAL OCCASSIONS: wedding e