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Dramaturgical Model

  This is an approach within the branch of sociology known as symbolic interactionism which is particularly associated with Erving Goffman. In this approach to social analysis the theatre is the basis of an analogy with everyday social life. Social action is conceived of as a ‘performance’, and individuals play parts, stage-managing their behaviour in order to control the impression they wish to convey to others. This is a process Goffman terms ‘impression management’. He argues that actors aim to present themselves always in a favourable light and in ways appropriate to the particular roles they are playing, and to the particular social setting they find themselves in. For Goffman, much of social life can be divided up into front and back regions. Front regions are ‘on-stage performances’, whereas back regions resemble the backstage area of the theatre. Goffman also examines the ways in which social actors co-operate as teams in order to preserve front region performances, and hide from view certain ‘backstage’ behaviours.

Goffman emphasizes the precarious nature of social order which is always at risk of disruption by embarrassment or breaches of the front. DA

See also action perspective; career; generalized other; role; social construction of reality; social self; structure-agency debate; understanding.Further reading J. Ditton (ed.), The View from Goffman; , E. Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) and Relations in Public: Microstudies of Public Order (1971).



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