outline and discuss erving goffmans theory of dramaturgy

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. ” This familiar exert from Shakespeare’s AsYou Like It, captures the essence of dramaturgy, a model of society which depicts social interactions as those of actors in a theatrical presentation before an audience in a given setting(Ferrante 2011).

Goffman’s theory, which expanded on Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic approach, may be divided into six themes: the performance, the region, the team, discrepant roles, communication out of character, and impression management (Manning 1992). Firstly, Goffman identifies seven elements of performance: belief in the role that is being played, the front or ‘mask’, dramatic realization, idealization, maintenance of expressive control, misrepresentation, and mystification. For instance, let us consider the example of a young man going for a job interview.

As he seeks to assume the role of an ideal employee (idealization), he tries (in his performance) to convey a certain image about himself through his dress, his speech, and his expressions (his front), emphasizing those things that he wants the interviewers to know (dramatic realization). He has to maintain control over these expressions throughout the interview (maintenance of expressive control). Any lapse in his performance in that role (misrepresentation) may lead to him revealing those things that he has been trying to conceal (mystification).

Secondly, Goffman describes that there are different stages or ‘regions’ in society. In the same example of the young man going through the interview, the room where he is before the interviewers would be the ‘front stage’, where both actors and audience are present and where actors, engaged in their performance, take care to maintain their images and behavior (Ferrante 2011). When the same young man is at home in his home clothes, engaging in informal conversation with his friends or playing football, this is would ‘back stage’.

Thirdly, Goffman speaks of the ‘team’ in his writings, defining them as ‘any set of individuals who co-operate in staging a single routine’ . An example can be seen as how many Barbadian adults try to create an impression of their socio-economic status around Christmas time to try to fool their visiting relatives. The adults in some families may work together, through obtaining furniture for two weeks on hire purchase, wearing expensive clothes, and visiting expensive restaurants.

The ‘team’ has to be consistent in their performance, and a mistake by any one persons in the presence of the audience (relative from overseas) can lead to the whole performance failing. Fourthly, Goffman describes how persons may play different roles in concealing the secrets in the performance or in revealing themii. An example of oneof the discrepant roles which Goffman discusses is the ‘Shill’ who represents someone who behaves as though they were a member of the audience, but actually is in league with the performers .

For example, in the case of the young interviewee, if he had a relative among the interviewers who was trying to tactfully coerce his fellow colleagues that this young man was all that he portrayed himself to be, he would be performing the role of the Shill. Other discrepant roles are the ‘informer’, the ‘spotter’ and the ‘go-between’ii. Fifthly, when we speak of ‘communication out of character’, this may be intentional or unintentional. When it is intentional, this would usually occur backstage where the actors ‘let their hair down’ and stop ‘performing’.

On the other hand it may be unintentional, where the actors slip up and do or say something out of character while on front stage. This may ruin their performance. To illustrate communication out of character, Goffman uses the example of the behavior of waiters in a restaurant. Their actions, behavior and attitude towards the customers when they are serving them may be totally different when they are ‘backstage’ in the kitchen (Ferrante 2011). Lastly, one of the most important elements of dramaturgy is impression management.

This refers to the process by which people in situations of social interaction use their clothes, setting, words, gestures to communicate the image that they are trying to convey to the persons around them (Ferrante 2011). Goffman describes how individuals seek to manipulate their manners, words and even facial expressions to convey the image they want to convey of themselves to their audience. Goffman describes the use of ‘sign-vehicles’ or ‘carriers’, which would be the props (such as clothes, accessories or accent) used by the actors to create the desired impression.

When the family above purchased the furniture on hire purchase to convey to their relatives that they were wealthy, they were practising impression management using the furniture as a sign-vehicle. In conclusion, Goffman’s theory of dramaturgy provides a creative insight into the face-to-face interaction of humans. While Blumer is credited for symbolic interactionism, Goffman’smicrosociological view of society could be termed‘strategic interactionism’(Manning 1992). Though the theory may accurately represent human interaction, one should still note that honesty is always the best policy.

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!

Assignments Writing Service | Get Better Grades Effortlessly
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.


Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.


Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.


Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.


Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Get better grades effortlesslyIt’s cheaper than you might think

Effortlessly get the essays and grades you need. You can now get any essay, on any subject and at ANY deadline with just 10 minutes of your time (or less). Your professor will love you for it!