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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

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
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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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