Dramaturgical frameworks and interactionism

Smith, GWH ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9496-434X 2021, 'Dramaturgical frameworks and interactionism' , in: The Routledge International Handbook of Interactionism , Routledge International Handbooks , Routledge, London, pp. 70-81.

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Access Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge International Handbook of Interactionism on 27th May 2021, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9780367227708


As a sociological perspective, dramaturgy takes seriously the similarities between life and theatre. It is ineluctably associated with Erving Goffman’s 1959 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and its central notion of impression management. The chapter first asks, what was it about Goffman’s book that made it so significant? Part of the answer lies in the novel ways in which a dramaturgical perspective is firmly confined to the study of face-to-face interaction. Goffman articulated his analysis of interaction by carefully employing notions of dramaturgy, presentation of self and impression management and developing the framework through a set of six ‘dramaturgical principles’. While many acknowledged that Goffman’s skilful use of these analytic resources shed fresh light on the ‘compositionality’ of interactional conduct, some critics complained that Goffman exaggerated the degree of people’s awareness of their capacity to scheme, manipulate and deceive others. Dramaturgy attracted criticism also for its apparent blurring of distinctions between theatre and social life that resulted in a morally debilitated conception of the human actor. Such views overlooked how dramaturgy remained a potent figure in Goffman’s subsequent books and articles, to be recast in circumscribed realist rather than metaphorical terms. Despite limited success in developing a dramaturgical methodology, dramaturgy continues to be an enormously fertile framework used to analyse and demystify the constructed features of presentations of self.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: vom Lehn, D, Ruiz-Junco, N and Gibson, W
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Publisher: Routledge
Series Name: Routledge International Handbooks
ISBN: 9780367227708 (hardback); 9780429276767 (ebook)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2021 08:54
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:57
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61713

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