The Presentation of Self in Contemporary Social Life

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David Shulman

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    Acknowledgements

    To my families from blood, marriage, and work

    Author’s Note

    Some readers may pick up this book interested in coverage of specific dramaturgical concepts. If so, I want to clarify up front that I do not cover Erving Goffman’s concepts in the chronological or sequential order of his publications. Instead, the book begins with a broad overview of the dramaturgical approach where I cover introductory ideas such as front and backstage and spoiled identity. In subsequent chapters, I then address ideas across the dramaturgical canon, from both Goffman and other scholars. I also define ideas in the book’s glossary. For reference, here is a sense of the dramaturgical and related concepts addressed in the later chapters:

    Chapter Four: Workplaces as Stages

    Interaction Order, Definition of the Situation, Deep and Surface Acting, Discrediting, Discreditable, Dramaturgical Circumspection, Discipline and Loyalty, Emotional Labor, Line, Organizational Underlife, Performance Teams and Team Collusion, Secondary Adjustments, Social Establishments, Own and the Wise, Total Institutions, Working Consensus

    Chapter Five: Modern Life as Show Business

    Communicating Out of Character, Chainscape, Celebrities, Dramaturgical Legibility, Extravagant Expectations, Image, Front and Backstage, Gender Advertisements, Marketing of Images, Mystification, Positive Idealization, Servicescape

    Chapter Six: Dramaturgical Involvements in Popular Culture

    Encounters, Engrossment, Face-to-Face Interaction, Footing, Frame Analysis, Framings, Interaction Ritual Chains, Keyings, Role Distance, Role Embracement, Situational Harness, Social Phoropter, Supportive and Remedial Interchanges

    Chapter Seven: The Internet: Society’s Newest Stage

    Audience Segregation, Collapsed Back and Front Stages, Deceptive Language, Expression Games, Moral Entrepreneurship, Online Impression Management, Role Engulfment, Stigma, Strategic Interaction

    Acknowledgments

    Thank you to Jeff Lasser for shepherding this book from proposal to completion. Thank you also to the excellent professionals at SAGE who worked on this book: Alexandra Croell, Beth Hammond, and Libby Larson. Thank you to anonymous reviewers. Sheldon Blackman, Kent Grayson, Rebecca Kissane, Andrea Smith, and Ira Silver all read parts of this ­manuscript, and I thank you all for your useful insights. Thank you also to Lafayette students who heard some of these ideas in classes and shared their reactions to them. Thank you also to Lafayette College and the ­Anthropology and Sociology Department for your support of this ­project. I have read and been inspired by many excellent scholars who write on Goffman’s ideas. I want to acknowledge the debt you are owed for all the exciting works you produce that unpack these ideas and explore them empirically. Finally, I thank my wife Susan, and son Alex, for bearing with me through the writing and for discussing the book’s ideas.

    The Show Must Go On: Exploring Presentation of Self in Contemporary Society

    Introduction: Goffman’s Ideas in the 21st Century

    In 1959, Erving Goffman published The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and popularized the dramaturgical perspective, which uses a theatrical analogy to analyze people’s social interactions. Goffman scrutinized people’s activities as if they were actors performing personas. As a result, he inspired research efforts to explore how people express themselves in order to influence the impressions that observers form about them. Goffman coined concepts to describe aspects and consequences of managing impressions, such as face, front and backstage, stigma, frame analysis, total institutions, interaction order, and the presentation of self. His analytic terms endure in the sociological lexicon and are firmly established as social science canon. This field of study is also referred to as impression management, although many sociologists refer to this perspective in an interchangeable sense as dramaturgical sociology.

    Goffman’s scholarship advanced beyond applying the dramaturgical analogy. He went on to develop additional analogies of frames, games, and rituals for analyzing social life (Lemert & Branaman, 1997). His applications of these analogies also continue to inspire research into impression management. For example, researchers have focused on how people understand the different “frames” that organize the experiences that they have and how “normals” and stigmatized people relate to each other (for additional examples see Chriss, 1995; Lemert & Branaman, 1997; Manning, 1992).

    Fast-forward to 2016: The world has changed since 1959, producing new situations of impression management for people to engage in and experience. Monumental technological changes have taken place, such as the advent of the Internet and cyber culture, which offer new and powerful means for individuals to present images of themselves to audiences. Contemporary marketing initiatives and advertising campaigns now use cutting-edge research to design persuasive appeals, performances, and staging to beguile and entice consumers. An immersive popular culture has emerged that enraptures fans in literary fantasies, video games, and adoration of celebrities. Body modification efforts have grown and multiple changes in physical self-presentation are now technologically possible. New values, social norms, and laws have also redefined some behaviors previously considered wholly deviant and stigmatized, and those changes impact how affected individuals present themselves. Would anyone have predicted in 1959 that same-sex marriage would be legally possible today and stigmas against homosexuality lessened? Given all of these changes, the time is right to inventory some contemporary applications of dramaturgical concepts. This book aims to advance that effort.

    The general questions this book addresses are as follows: What is the dramaturgical approach? How can I use this approach, in general, to think fruitfully about society? How does a dramaturgical approach shed light on specific modern social institutions like the workplace, the Internet, and popular culture? What insights do scholars currently provide? Many social scientists use the dramaturgical approach to study modern life, and scholarly journals publish articles that apply dramaturgical analyses to modern society. This book hopes to convey some key points from those works, in order to update dramaturgical concepts as they might indicate, and to sum up some “state of the art” dramaturgical and impression management ideas.

    The priority in this book is to focus on how dramaturgical ideas are applied to examine contemporary organizations, events, activities, and behaviors. My goal is that this book’s readers will gain a familiarity with impression management ideas and appreciate how they help make useful sense out of everything from how people act in meetings to how marketers take advantage of people’s desire to put their best face forward. This authorial perspective is also informed by the tendency of scholarly writings on Goffman’s ideas to exhaustively analyze and reanalyze his articles and books in sophisticated terms for audiences composed mainly of other academics and specialist scholars. I believe that theorists and researchers of dramaturgy should also be publishing more analyses aimed at interested non-specialists.

    It is normal academic operating procedure for scholars of Goffman’s theories to write high-end analyses for other theorists and for empirical social scientists to publish dramaturgically based research analyses of different field sites. Nothing is out of sorts in that arrangement, which is how scholarship is organized professionally. Yet something is also missing here that seems to exist additionally in other subfields. For whatever reasons, there are few straightforward texts on contemporary dramaturgical sociology written for non-specialists in mind, which is at odds with how high the interest level is in Goffman’s work. So the time is right to take stock and summarize some insights that have been derived from applying Goffman’s ideas to today’s world. This book articulates dramaturgical sociology at a more approachable level, reports on some recent dramaturgical research, and illustrates why this approach is helpful in analyzing important aspects of modern life.

    The Content of the Book

    The book’s organization is straightforward. I introduce and review the dramaturgical and impression management perspective. I present this perspective as a powerful theoretical approach. The main body of the book presents some applications of dramaturgical ideas to analyze different aspects of modern life. In each chapter, I reflect on individual research findings and emphasize conclusions about dramaturgical theory’s relevance. I respect the scholarly works that appraise Goffman’s ideas and how researchers apply impression management approaches empirically. I hope to bring more of their insights to readers by identifying an overarching range of these works.

    Impression management research is also interdisciplinary. Many scholars advance variants of the dramaturgical approach in other disciplines, so exposing more of their work to a sociological audience that may not have encountered that research is important. Interdisciplinary scholars of Goffman need to keep in better touch with one another; this book comprises an effort to get us reacquainted. Scholars in marketing, for example, have long adopted Goffman’s ideas for thinking about service interactions between customers and companies, such as considering how storefronts should be staged for maximum selling and service effectiveness. Management scholars have focused on impression management in leadership studies and evaluated the dramaturgical metaphor as one lens for understanding organizational behavior. Science, technology, and society scholars analyze interactions on the Internet. Psychologists also study impression management and stigma. Sample applications across fields should be considered to get a better sense of contemporary dramaturgy’s applicability and relevance. This book presents an interdisciplinary treatment of dramaturgical scholarship and recognizes scholars within and outside sociology who do innovative work in studying impression management.

    Of course there are limits to how much topical coverage is possible here. Scholars produce dramaturgical works on many subjects. The subjects included here are consumer research, deviance, dramaturgical theories, emotional labor, the Internet, marketing, popular culture, and workplaces. Along the way, I reference some important sociological ideas addressing inequality, gender, race, and power.

    Some Analytic Directions

    To foreshadow some different aspects of contemporary society that I cover, the book includes the following topics:

    • Explorations of how businesses and marketers construct front stage images and apply theatrical techniques to appeal to and persuade consumers to buy
    • Consideration of how Internet technologies are revolutionizing people’s communications and interactions with each other, such as in catfishing, using filters, online dating, and trolling
    • Examining people’s dramaturgical involvements in media and popular culture, such as the increasing place of games and role-playing activities in modern life, from people playing characters in fantasy RPGs, to jobs in workplaces that require displaying characters and emotions as part of one’s job

    In his 1962 book, The Image, Daniel Boorstin predicted that businesses would saturate American life with spectacles and illusions to lure, entrance, and satisfy consumers. Businesses were using techniques of impression management and theatricality to command attention and interest in their wares. Cultural critics like Neil Postman (1985) questioned whether people today are “amusing themselves to death,” and Stuart Ewen (1988) examined “all consuming images.” Neal Gabler (2000) argues that there is now a “deliberate application of techniques of the theater to politics, religion, education. … Commerce has converted them all to branches of show business where the goal is getting and pleasing an audience” (p. 5). If these arguments are true, what better approach to study contemporary life than a sociological perspective that specializes in applying dramaturgical concepts to analyze human behavior? This book reviews how the dramaturgical approach applies to studying contemporary institutions that are so centered on presenting selective images and information to audiences. Further, if contemporary life is becoming more “enchanted” and lived through “cathedrals of consumption” (Ritzer, 2005), with people engrossed in cyber cultures, and living vicariously through celebrities, I unapologetically assert that sociologists should go where that action is.

    Good sociologists also advance beyond offering handwringing cultural critiques. Anyone can launch diatribes that everything is going to hell in a handbasket because people watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians rather than download highbrow books and listen to opera. It is not a novel insight to proclaim that an individual or commercial actor can entertain and distract people with one hand while emptying their pockets or dulling their minds with another. What is more useful is investigating how a world focused on presenting images across so many social institutions works according to dramaturgical concepts. Sociologists must address how businesses that seek to persuade and enchant people operate. How do these actors create their shows and disseminate them to diverse audiences in different markets?

    Business enterprises use themes to promote products. Theming a business is a fundamental dramatic activity, whether in designing the commercial haunted houses that spring up every Halloween or as evident in Mexican chain restaurants that hang sombreros on their walls. Sociologists should study how people within these workplaces give their illusions life, what rules govern good themes and shows, and the impressions that audiences form that motivate purchasing activity. Those tasks all involve active dramaturgical considerations.

    Marketers study how businesses develop what are called “servicescapes” comprised of alluring front stages and atmospherics that offer customers great service and, not coincidentally, also inspire audiences to part with their cash (Bitner, 1992). A labor market exists of occupations that specialize in different aspects of presenting images. Celebrities, advertisers, marketers, public relations experts, theme park designers, self-help professionals, cosmetic plastic surgeons—there are many professionals whose paid work is tied to impression management activities involving various objects and people. These professional illusionists comprise only the upper tier level of these practitioners. People working in service industries are on the frontline in staging retail and other storefront locations for customers. Someone has to be the prop master, give the admissions tour at colleges, wear a costume at the theme park, and showcase the results of plastic surgeries. If workplaces operate increasingly like theaters, the dramaturgical approach helps us understand them.

    Consider a different example: How do people put together impressions in a virtual world? Facebook and cell phones are instrumental means that make today’s generation of “selfie” takers the most thorough self-­documentarians in history. Online dating creates more liars by the second, and Tinder arguably helps replace romance with superficiality. People cyberbully and stigmatize others online in unprecedented ways. Neo-Luddites, and even some lovers of technology, worry that too much screen time and texting interactions are reducing people’s competence at face-to-face interaction. Theories of impression management shed light on these activities. In addition to these phenomena, changes in deviant behavior, popular culture, and workplaces are also realms where dramaturgical insights apply.

    Conclusion

    Sociologists argue that human behaviors are the product of individual agency and social forces operating in specific times and contexts. Impression management is no exception as the kinds of performances that people and groups seek to give are mediated by what personas are in favor at a given time and the sorts of stages that exist where people perform. The 21st century context is different from the 20th century context, so applications of Goffman’s dramaturgy should be updated continually to reflect the social forces in today’s world.

    The dramaturgical perspective teaches people the important lesson that the appearances that people create and sustain for audiences have a mutually reinforcing relationship with their individual enactors. People create appearances as actors, but those appearances also affect people in terms of how others identify, judge, and treat them. Individuals confront having their impression management efforts be increasingly routinized and imposed on them by external organizations. The power to determine what appearances matter and how they ought to be performed has significant stakes for determining individual autonomy and mobility in the 21st century. Social categories of ethnicity, gender, and race also affect the capacity to employ and be impacted by impression management techniques.

    The dramaturgical perspective is part of a sociological tradition called symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism examines how people use social symbols to interpret and communicate meanings. Language is a social symbol, clothing is another, and so are gestures and different acts like handshakes, using props, and performances. Some social scientists have criticized the symbolic interaction focus as being too microscopic in nature and too distant from traditional sociological concerns with the doings of large-scale social institutions and the powers that they have over people’s lives. In today’s world, I argue that this criticism should not apply as forcefully.

    Important institutions today, such as commercial, cultural, technological, and workplace enterprises, use heightened means of symbolic communication to attract, persuade, and determine individual activities. Culture motivates people’s actions and puts them into fantasy worlds that people increasingly inhabit or attempt to make real. Commercial organizations use idealized versions of possible identities to encourage consumption and to interact with consumers. Technological advancements also increase the capacity to communicate images for good and bad effect. Workplaces in an entertainment and experience economy need workers to manifest images as a form of labor. Requirements for how people perform in the workplace can become increasingly restrictive. Some employers now even use advanced technology tracking in combination with old techniques of scientific management to insist upon rigid performative adherence on the job (Head, 2014).

    The importance of images and performing in both leisure and work reflect that dramaturgy and symbols have a growing contemporary power over people. Sociologists use dramaturgical concepts to analyze how people communicate using meaningful symbols. However, we need to expand Goffman’s dramaturgical lexicon to address the now large-scale use of symbolic communication and image that exists today thanks to technological advancement and institutional growth in use of persuasive imagery. If people and organizations interact through a language of appearances, then we must examine how appearances are created and enacted, for whom, why, and with what consequences. They impact people’s well-being in the 21st century.

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  • Glossary

    Note: This glossary includes concepts originated by different scholars. I list the originator’s initials at the end of each entry to identify the source of the concept. A full listing of the authors that correspond to the initials is provided at the end. Full citations for the relevant author’s work are provided in the reference section. I do not provide initials in cases where I identified the author in the entry itself or when I thought the term was in enough general use so as to not need to attribute an originator. In cases where Goffman is the originator, I also list initials to identify the paper or book from which the term comes (following the requisite “EG”).

    Achieved Status:

    A social status you achieve in society based on your own doings, such as being captain of an athletic team or employee of the month.

    Actual Social Identity:

    The actual identity that an individual has as opposed to the virtual social identity he or she presents to an audience. (EG S)

    Altercasting:

    Performing in a way that tries to force other people to take on certain roles as a result. (W&D)

    Ascribed Status:

    A social status in society you are born into like being a particular gender or race.

    Attributive Tactics Versus Repudiative Tactics:

    Attributive tactics intend to express something about “you” while repudiative tactics are meant to disassociate you from a particular label. (ML)

    Audience Segregation:

    Separating the audience for one persona from being able to observe performances that could contradict that distinct persona and spoil that image. For example, politicians will claim to be monogamous at press conferences but cheat on partners at locations hidden from the press. Audience segregation prevents embarrassment. (EG PS)

    Auditions for Opportunity:

    The term refers to the social importance of carrying off vital scenes in impression management like job interviews and appearances before bureaucracies like the court system, in which performing well is linked to potential success and upward mobility. The ability to succeed in these auditions is enhanced by social class and other background variables of cultural capital, in combination with the person’s performative agency. The term connects dramaturgical events to social mobility. (DS)

    Authentication Practices:

    Tactics people use to create credible deceptions or to otherwise demonstrate that a performance is credible and honest, including when telling the truth in suspicious circumstances. (DS)

    Backstage:

    A region in which people prepare a performance in anticipation of a front stage audience’s judgment and/or where they can also relax a persona that they have to maintain for an audience when on the front stage. (EG PS)

    Backstage Staff:

    People who work in the backstage to help people rehearse for performances. (H&B)

    Basic Interpretive Competence:

    An audience must have the appropriate cultural knowledge and capacity to interpret the performances that they observe so that the performance has a chance to achieve its purpose. (DS)

    Bask in Reflected Glory:

    To reflect in the glory of something else as a presentational strategy. Examples are when hometowns publicize celebrities who were born there, swath themselves in a winning team’s colors, or parents brag about a child’s achievements. (ML)

    Calculated Impression:

    The impression that one seeks to make versus making a secondary impression, which is one left in the minds of the audience, and that may or may not be the calculated one that was sought. (ML)

    Calculated Unintentionality:

    A term describing when calculated thought and preparation go into an affectation and effect that is meant to come across as unintended, unplanned, spontaneous, and “natural” in interactions. For example, the saying “I chased him until he caught me,” or acting as if bumping into someone who you strategized how to run into was just a fortunate coincidence rather than the result of a conscious plan of action. (EG PS)

    Celebrity:

    A person “well known for their well-knowness”; a “human entertainment.” (DB)

    Chainscape:

    The landscape created by retail chains and their themed atmospheres that form a dominating presentational context in which people shop and spend time. (DS)

    Chorus:

    A reference group that supports the front stage narrative and performance. (H&B)

    Civil Inattention:

    Giving a rudimentary acknowledgment of another person in public while being careful to give no invitations to interact—like in public transportation or on an elevator. Some might extend this idea to explain why people will not make any public acknowledgment of problematic behavior that they see. A similar but slightly different terminology for that action is “tactful blindness.” (EG PS)

    Code of the Streets:

    Refers to Elijah Anderson’s conception of how Black men in Philadelphia develop a “streetwise” persona suited to the perceived attitudes of an audience approaching them while they are on the street. A larger dramaturgical variation on Anderson’s conception describes the public face that an individual feels is appropriate on a public stage such as the street, as a result of race, religion, or another factor.

    Communication out of Character:

    Communications that contradict a given performance. (EG PS)

    Control Moves:

    “The intentional efforts of an informant to produce expressions that he thinks will improve his situation if they are gleaned by the observer.” (EG SI)

    Cooling Out the Mark:

    Tactics to alleviate a person’s feelings after they have experienced a loss of status. (EG CM)

    Copresence:

    Two parties being simultaneously available and aware of one another in performance.

    Cut Off Reflected Failure:

    An attempt to distance oneself from a perceived disreputable failure. An example is when Americans clarify that they did not vote for Bush or support Obama. (ML)

    Cuts:

    Practices of pointedly denying overtures for interaction. Cuts are rude, so people may try to do cuts by appearing to make them accidents to deny encounter overtures. “Didn’t see you” or by appearing to be on a cell phone call so as to not be able to talk in person with someone. (EG BPP)

    Deep Versus Surface Acting:

    Deep acting involves actually trying to summon up emotions to connect authentically with a part one is playing. Surface acting is going through the motions of giving a performance without actually trying to authentically feel that part. (AH)

    Defensive Practices:

    Strategies to protect one’s own claims of identity. (EG PS)

    Deference:

    Symbolic power in potential form:

    Once deference is acquired, it can be deployed as the symbolic power to frame (define) actions, situations, and events in ways that induce compliance and constitute the social order.

    Definition of the Situation:

    An understanding that a given or specific state of affairs applies to the situation that someone is in, such as being in a class or on a date or a job interview. The prevailing definition informs people how to act to sustain that given state of affairs. (EG PS, FA)

    Definitional Disruptions:

    When events occur that contradict or shatter the definition of the situation that an actor tries to present.

    Degradation Ceremonies:

    Shaming ceremonies that punish the status of someone with a spoiled identity. (HG)

    Demeanor:

    The attitude and behavior a person projects toward others.

    Depiction Fallacy:

    Taking a depiction or representation of reality as actual reality. (DS)

    Director:

    The person who provides an interpretation for the script, rehearses the action, and provides cues at performance time. (H&B)

    Discreditable:

    Someone who has a potentially “spoiled identity” that can be kept secret. (EG S)

    Discredited:

    Someone who has a visible “spoiled identity” that cannot be hidden. (EG S)

    Discrepant Roles:

    Poses a problem to the credibility of the performance because someone has access to the backstage and is also a member of the audience. (EG PS)

    Display Rules:

    The rules for displaying emotion that are considered appropriate in a setting. “There is no crying in baseball.” “Don’t laugh at customers.”

    Dramatic Realization:

    How individuals infuse all sorts of subtle social activity by communicative signs to get their characters across. For example, nodding’s one’s head to feign attention when someone else talks to show interest even when uninterested. (EG PS)

    Dramaturgical Awareness:

    Awareness of being judged. (B&E)

    Dramaturgical Camouflage:

    That front stage and impression management behaviors constitute barriers to information gathering and research by observers, as they obscure true attitudes and behaviors and produce blind spots in knowledge. (DS)

    Dramaturgical Circumspection:

    Deliberating beforehand and taking steps connected to putting on the best show. (EG PS)

    Dramaturgical Discipline:

    Giving a disciplined performance that fits expectations such as playing parts and attending to details. (EG PS)

    Dramaturgical Loyalty:

    Loyalty to fellow performers on a team that encourages partners to accept an obligation to perform appropriate to the mutual performance. (EG PS)

    Dramaturgical Residences:

    When people choose to “reside” in a fictional character when they can, in addition to, or other than, their “civilian” identity. Examples include in popular culture when a person chooses to identify as a vampire or a lieutenant in Starfleet or as a Furry, while they also recognize being the more conventional mortal “Fred” or “Jane” at work. Dramaturgical residences require intense commitment to fictional identities including enacting costuming, language, and behaviors in rigid dramaturgical discipline to the conventions of the character. (DS)

    Embarrassment:

    Negative feelings felt in the aftermath of a spoiled identity or performance.

    Embarrassment Grenades:

    A description of efforts to use dramaturgical expectations and frame traps to try to embarrass or shame someone and gain some social leverage and power over him or her. While many focus on the acting steps people take to avoid embarrassment, there are many ways that people try to embarrass others by invoking how those others have some sort of spoiled identity in a situation. A stigma is the shaming characteristic; the “embarrassment grenade” is the delivery vehicle to harness that shaming power against someone. (DS)

    Embracement:

    To embrace a role is to disappear completely into the virtual self that is available in the situation, to be fully seen in terms of the image, and to confirm expressively one’s acceptance of it. (EG FA)

    Emotional Labor:

    The displays of emotion expected in a particular work role. (AH)

    Encounters:

    Face-to-face interaction sequences. They are “when persons are gathered together and sustain a joint focus of visual and cognitive attention, mutually ratifying one another as persons open to each other for talk or its substitutes.” (EG E)

    Expression Games:

    The game of trying to gain information from others while concealing information yourself. People engage in covering, uncovering, and counter-uncovering moves; in others words, they hide information, attempt to find out information about others, and try to avoid the attempts others make to learn their information. (EG SI)

    Expressions Given:

    Any sign activity consciously intended to communicate a message to an observer. (EG PS)

    Expressions Given Off:

    Any sign activity that is seen as unintended, nonverbal. (EG PS)

    Expressive Control:

    Efforts to keep inconsistent feelings from disrupting the performance. (EG PS)

    Extravagant Expectations:

    Overly heightened social expectations that influence consumption behavior. These expectations address “what the world holds,” of how sparkling and vivid life can be, of being able to achieve purposes easily, and solve problems without delay. (DB)

    Fabrication:

    When people are led by others to have a false belief about what is going on. Fabrications can be benign, like a surprise party, or exploitative, like in a con job. (EG FA)

    Face:

    An image of self in terms of approved social attributes. The positive social value a person effectively claims for themselves by the line others assume they have taken during a particular contact. “Reputation in the eyes of others.” (EG PS)

    Faking in Bad Faith Versus Good Faith/Connection to Deep and Surface Acting:

    When a person gives a superficial performance in a role, they are faking in bad faith. When a person gives a performance in which they commit emotionally, they are faking in good faith. (R&S)

    Fancy Milling:

    Describes “where the action is” for people in consumption, in people enjoying getting to be big shots by displaying an association with opulence and conspicuous consumption in front of others in designated places for that activity. “Adults in our society can enjoy a taste of social mobility by consuming valued products, by enjoying costly and modish entertainment, by spending time in luxurious settings, and by mingling with prestigeful persons—all the more if these occur at the same time and in the presence of many witnesses. This is the action of consumption.” (EG IR)

    Feeling Rules:

    The rules people encounter that structure how they are supposed to feel, like the perennial “boys don’t cry.” (AH)

    Footing:

    The point of view and understanding that an individual participant adopts within a particular frame. How they associate themselves with a particular frame of reference. (EG FA)

    Frame and Framing:

    Principles of organizing experience that govern the subjective meaning that people assign to social events. (EG FA)

    Frame Trap:

    Once stuck in the wrong frame, people are trapped by the descriptive power of the wrong frame, like from a stigma or label. (EG FA)

    Front Stage:

    A region where people present and are expected to present in front of an audience. (EG PS)

    Identity Tags:

    “Officially recognized seals that bond an individual to his biography” (Goffman, 1969, p. 22). They connect an actor to a claimed identity or affiliation; for example, there are official tags like passports, driver’s licenses, and birth certificates. Unofficial identity tags are informal, such as proper apparel, business cards, letterhead, accents, and physical markings. (EG SI)

    Image:

    An image is a “visible public personality as opposed to a private character. The idea is that images can be shined, developed, and refined for public consumption. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product, or service.” (DB)

    Image Life:

    Sustaining the image or persona as a pristine real construct over time. (DS)

    Imagination Products:

    Products that exist in fantasy realms that encourage us to fantasize to consume them, such as literary creations, movies, and amusement parks. (DS)

    Information Preserve:

    The set of facts about himself or herself to which an individual expects to control access while before others. (EG RP)

    Interaction Membrane:

    A protective filtering boundary metaphorically cutting an encounter off from the wider world, protecting its integrity and rewards. (EG E)

    Keyings:

    Signals to participants about the nature of a particular framing that apply to signalling “real” meanings within frame and frame changes. A keying transforms meaning in an interaction that then determines what people think is really going on. For example, a keying can be that something is “make-believe.” The fight is play, not a real fight. (EG FA)

    Know Your Audience:

    A person should try to understand the affinities and assumptions of particular audiences to avoid performing the wrong thing in front of them. (DS)

    Line:

    A perspective taken and performed in an interaction that also reflects a definition of the situation that a team sustains in public.

    Meso-Level:

    Theories that apply microsociological data and thinking in shaping conclusions about larger level societal phenomena.

    Mystification:

    Concealing mundane aspects of putting together a performance so that the effect seems more powerful and magical. For example, hiding a magic act behind a curtain. In Kenneth Burke, mystification refers to using language to disguise actual conditions or truth. (EG PS)

    Nonfiction Performance:

    A term used to communicate that performance here is not of artistic and literary works. The performances here refer to real actions and intentions and are interpreted and communicated as truthful and happening in real life and real time. The use of nonfiction refers to the distinction between fictive literature and nonfiction literature, in which the former is understood as made up with imaginary characters while nonfiction is understood as referring to real people and events and to be literally “true.” (DS)

    Persona:

    The identity and behaviors that an actor puts forth that are considered appropriate to the social situation.

    Personal Front:

    Items intimately connected to the performer and considered a part of him or her apart from items in the setting, such as clothing, sex, age, racial characteristics, size and looks, speech patterns, body, and facial expressions. (EG PS)

    Playwright:

    Provides idea or script for performance. (H&B)

    Positive Idealization:

    Presenting yourself as if you live up to very ideal standards—which can also conceal inconsistencies. (EG PS)

    Prescriptive Versus Restrictive Norms:

    How people should appear versus how their performances are meant to be restricted. (ML)

    Production:

    An organizationally developed presentation informed by resources and meant to have a calculated, typically commercial effect. Values are nested in productions just as they are nested in the dramaturgical performances that individuals give. (DS)

    Programming and Trimming:

    Work to get someone socialized into a new identity by chipping away aspects of old identity through programs that force one into a new identity. (EG A)

    Props:

    Physical objects that are meant to aid a performance.

    Protective Practices:

    Strategies intended to protect the projected definition of others. (EG PS)

    Rationalization of Dramaturgy:

    A term to describe the larger systematized organizational insistence on rigid adherence to specified dramaturgical norms. For example, total institutions insist on certain dramaturgical patterns of responses by performers. The term rationalization of dramaturgy refers to an imposition of rigid dramaturgical social requirements across groups and organizations. (DS)

    Rationalization of Symbols:

    This term addresses the idea that organizations strategically implement semiotic and symbol displays to exercise control and create an “iron cage” around people. In essence, a contemporary matrix of symbolic control over people. (DS)

    Regions:

    Any place that is bounded to some degree by barriers to perception. “Within the walls of a social establishment we find a team of performers who cooperate to present to an audience a given definition of the situation…. We often find a division into the back region, where the performance of a routine is prepared and front region where the performance is presented…. Among members of the team, we find that familiarity prevails, solidarity is likely to develop and the secrets that could give the show away are shared and kept (p. 238).” (EG PS)

    Repetitive Monotony:

    The means through which people live together in a normal state of predictability, in overwhelmingly familiar and routine patterns of social interaction, that are routine in everyday life, work, and among family and friends. (DS)

    Republic of Entertainment:

    A cultural criticism that the most profound impulse in the United States is now to be entertained or amused by images and celebrities rather than by ideas or higher forms of culture. The urge to be entertained is creating more and more spectacle and less thought. (NG)

    Role:

    Refers to obligations, behaviors, duties, and feelings associated with a named status. For example, a drill sergeant performs a role that demonstrates authority.

    Role Dispossession:

    Being forced out of a role. (H&B)

    Role Distance:

    An “effectively” expressed pointed distance between the individual and his putative role … not actually denying the role but the virtual self that is implied in the role for all accepting performers (p. 108).” Shows that as a person you perform this role but you are not “the” role. You have some distance from an attribution about you based on you performing that role. For example, winking when scolding someone or doing a service job in a scattered way to show that you are “too good” for that work. A person will try to distance themselves from any stigma associated with the persona connected to that role. (EG E)

    Role Embracement:

    Occurs when someone is attached to and identifies with a role, they have the quality or capacity to play that role, and they are engaged in the role. (EG E)

    Role Segregation:

    Keeping people who figure in one role set out of the other—don’t mix fraternity or sorority peers with how one acts in front of professors.

    Scaling:

    Appreciating the implications associated with moving up in scale from individual dramaturgy to those actions taken by groups and organizations with more resources and power to commit to their image making. (DS)

    Schemas:

    Sets of background knowledge that provide information about objects and ideas about the relationships between objects.

    Secondary Adjustments:

    “Any set of habitual arrangements by which a member of an organization employs unauthorized means, or obtains unauthorized ends, or both, to get around the organization’s assumptions as to what he should do and get and hence what he should be (p. 189).” Informal organizational adjustments constitute practices that achieve ends while surreptitiously evading formal organizational controls on people. (EG A)

    Seduction:

    “Maneuvering a definition of the situation such that the subject is led to believe that the observer is to be treated as something of a teammate to whom strategic information can be voluntarily trusted (p. 37).” (EG SI)

    Self-Reconstitution:

    Process leading to a new understanding of self.

    Setting:

    The scenery and props arrayed in the physical space of a performance.

    Sign Vehicles:

    Aspects of setting, manner, and appearance that people use in performances.

    Sincere Versus Cynical Performances:

    When a person believes in the impression that he or she wants to foster versus having no belief in the performance as other than a means to an end. (EG PS)

    Situational Harness:

    The social expectation that people must present themselves to others in a “situational harness,” meaning that they must dress, speak, and otherwise enter their interactions in normatively appropriate ways. (EG BPP)

    Social Situation:

    Any environment of mutual monitoring possibilities that lasts during the times two or more individuals find themselves in another’s immediate physical presence and extends over the entire territory within which this mutual monitoring is possible.

    Spoiled Identity:

    An identity that has been spoiled as not meeting the intended projection in front of others. (EG S)

    Stage Manager:

    Idea that societies require regular performative management as an organizing principle of orderly life. (NE)

    Staging Cues:

    Cues to team members about how to act during a front stage performance that are hidden from an audience. (EG PS)

    Status:

    A named position within a network of other statuses, such as son, grandfather, woman and man, doctor, patient. Statuses involve social identities that come with specific expectations, rights, obligations, behaviors, and duties.

    Stigma:

    A deeply discrediting characteristic that is an abomination of the body, a blemish of character, or a tribal stigma. (EG S)

    Strip:

    Refers to a strip of interaction or a slice of ongoing activity (from the perspective of people maintaining the activity). (EG FA)

    Suspension of Disbelief:

    Willingness to accept the authenticity of the actor and persona in a situation in order to sustain orderly relations.

    Tact:

    Helping others save face.

    Team Collusion:

    When members of a team refer to backstage secrets regarding the performance in a secret way without revealing that digression to an audience. For example, winking to another teammate when a member of an audience confirmed some negative appraisal of him or her that was discussed backstage but not during performance. (EG PS)

    Teams:

    Individuals working together to express the characteristics of a social situation through giving a performance. (EG PS)

    Territories of the Self:

    A set of fields that belong in association with a given persona and are defended. Examples include the following:

    (1) Personal space. (2) A stall space like a seat outside in a beach or box. A paid-for seat. (3) Use space is an area of activity in front of a person reserved for her/his use—like in front of a person at a gallery or other “stay out of the way” type positions. (4) Your turn—respecting when your turn arrives in a line or some other kind of reservation system. (5) The sheath of the person’s skin and body and clothes. (6) A person’s “possessional territory” which speaks to their personal effects or things in front of them, like your radio, cards, food. (7) biographical facts. (8) Conversational preserve—to reserve your involvement in conversation to ones that you can choose, including of conversational circles. (EG RP)

    Theatrocracy:

    Idea of being systematically ruled through governing bodies using techniques of theatricality to subdue a populace. (NE)

    Total Institution:

    A type of organization like a prison that takes over complete control of the social identity and rights of people. (EG A)

    Treatment of the Absent:

    Basically talking behind people’s backs—what people can say about or do to people who are not in the audience or present on the team. (EG PS)

    Trojan or Mercenary Wholesomeness:

    Using wholesome and innocent-seeming displays to get people to buy things. (DS)

    Underlife (Organizational):

    Goffman (1963) metaphorically equated a city’s “underworld,” such as a criminal underworld or underground-and an organization’s underlife. He is referring to the unofficial, sometimes dark means through which an organization does work while not upsetting the myths about what work practices are supposed to occur. An individual’s secondary adjustments, in combination with the secondary adjustments of other organizational members, make up the organizational underlife of an organization. (EG A)

    Virtual Social Identity:

    The social identity that actors put forth to present to others in comparison to what they consider a different actual social identity. (EG S)

    Working Consensus:

    “Together, participants contribute to a single over-all definition of the situation which involves not so much a real agreement as to what exists, but rather a real agreement as to whose claims concerning what issues will be temporarily honored. Real agreement will also exist concerning the desirability of avoiding an open conflict of definitions of the situation. I will refer to this level of agreement as a working consensus (p. 10).” (EG PS)

    Author Initials:

    AH = Arlie Hochschild

    B&E = Brisset and Edgley

    DB = Daniel Boorstin

    DS = David Shulman

    EG = Erving Goffman

    H&B = Hare and Blumberg

    HG = Harold Garfinkel

    L&S = Lyman and Scott

    ML = Mark Leary

    NE = Nikolai Evreinov

    NG = Neil Gabler

    R&S = Rafaeli and Sutton

    W&D = Weinstein and Deutschberger

    Erving Goffman Paper and Books:

    A = Asylums

    BPP = Behavior in Public Places

    CM = “Cooling the Mark Out”

    E = Encounters

    FA = Frame Analysis

    IR = Interaction Ritual

    PS = Presentation of Self

    RP = Relations in Public

    S = Stigma

    SI = Strategic Interaction

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