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This constitutes a theory about social behavior; it postulates that social behavior is like the behavior of actors, in that behavior is enacted to generate impressions for an audience. It is present very persuasively by evidence from literary sources such as George Orwell on waiters and Simone de Beauvoir on women, and from sociological case studies and books about professional groups such as house-detectives and undertakers. For example he cites Orwell's book Down and Out in Paris and London:

  • It is an instructive sight to see a waiter going into a hotel dining-room. As he passes the door a sudden change comes over him. The set of his shoulders alters; all the dirt and hurry and irritation have dropped off in an instant. He glides over the carpet, with a solemn priest-like air. I remember our assistant 'maitre d'hotel', a fiery Italian, pausing at the dining-room door to address his apprentice who had broken a bottle of wine. Shaking his fist above his head he yelled (luckily the door was more or less soundproof), 'do you call yourself a waiter, you young bastard? You a waiter! You're not fit to scrub floors in the brothel your mother came from.'
  • Words failing him, he turned to the door, and as he opened it he delivered a final insult in the same manner as Squire Western in Tom Jones.
  • Then he entered the dining-room and sailed across it dish in hand, gracefully as a swan. Ten seconds later he was bowing reverently to a customer. And you could not help thinking, as you saw him bow and smile, with that benign smile of the trained waiter, that the customer was put to shame by having such an aristocrat to serve him (Orwell, 1951) Orwell, G. (1951) Down and Out in Paris and London. London: Gollanez.

Goffman did not produce any evidence in the form of experiments or sociological field studies to support his thesis, nor did he present the elements of it in the form of clear, testable hypotheses. It may help to focus attention on the empirical predictions from the theory if we consider some possible lines of criticism, which could be settled by evidence.

  1. Does social interaction involve as great an element of deliberate, conscious deception as is postulated? It is in fact people like waiters and undertakers who fit the model best, and there is no doubt that there is an element of window-dressing in most professional performances. This need not however be conscious, and Goffman admits that after a time the personality adjusts to fit the mask. Self-enhancement on the other hand is based more of self-deception than on deception of others. It may be suggested that the dramaturgical model applies quite well to confidence men, has some application to some aspects of professional performances, and very little application to everyday life.
  2. Are there really front and back regions is most establishment? Visitors to factories are usually shown over the entire establishment' hospitals and university departments have no obvious division between front and back. There are areas where people live their private lives and don't want to be disturbed, and there are comfortable board rooms for long meetings, but this is not a matter of front and back. Private houses are an intermediate case. Visitors are shown into the sitting-room and perhaps the dining-room and are allowed to use a lavatory; they are not usually (except in the middle West) so welcome in the kitchen, or the bedrooms. It may be suggested that the the distinction between front and back applies well to institutions offering a service to the public, such as hotels and shops, but not so much to other places.
  3. Is the difference in behavior to other members of the 'team' and to the 'audience' correctly interpreted in terms of collusion over impression management? It is often the case that P behaves differently to person A and B, but this does not necessarily indicate that he is being bogus to one of them. He relates to each by developing a synchronizing social system (a 'working consensus', as Goffman would say), and those will be different in each case depending on the personality and position of the other. Impression management is involved in each. The waiter behaves with skill, in order to elicit the desired reactions form the customers; his behavior with the books is managed also, as they too have to be controlled. Goffman is probably right however in postulating an on-stage-off-stage dimension, in which behavior in the more off-stage situations is more spontaneous and relaxed, more vulgar and intimate than behavior on-stage.
  4. Does the acting model fit ordinary social behavior? The actor follows a script which he has learnt; in everyday life behavior is more spontaneous. Again, professional performers such as salesmen are like actors, in that they do have a script, but even they have to improvise to some extent. Actors only respond to one another in respect of timing. All social situations have rules, but they do not have a script; indeed it is one of the unspoken assumptions of social interaction that what is taking place is entirely new and spontaneous.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, A self help and improvement book: useful psychology information (an integration of personality, social, interaction, communication and well-being psychology). OpenStax CNX. Jul 11, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11139/1.47
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