What is Dramaturgy (Sociologically)?

Dramaturgy, with Drama- “” and -turgy “work”.

The other definition of Dramaturgy is the theory and practice of dramatic composition.

Dramaturgy, a sociological concept by sociologist Erving Goffman (a notable figure in symbolic interactionism. Fun fact: he was terrible at poker), refers to how we behave in social interactions, how we present ourselves to others through our daily interactions, ranging from how we present ourselves to our boss at work to the cashier at your local grocery store. Goffman coins two term; the Front Stage is how we self-present ourselves through our given roles, a more formal role, and the Backstage is a more personal, informal presentation to other people, as we feel like we are less restrained by lessened roles.

A further example of Dramaturgy includes how we talk to the President/Prime Minster/Royal vs. how we talk to our close friends and family members, as you may feel more comfortable making bathroom humor with them much more than an influential political leader, as you are aware of the consequences of failing your given role (as they would more likely presume that you are less intelligent, immature or even disrespectful). Through Impression Management, we attempt to control how people view us, such as changing how we talk or dress around certain people, as we want to make a good impression possible.

Dramaturgical analysis refers to how we analysis people’s everyday interactions, just as we would observe an actor’s performance on stage. For instance, Let’s try a exercise:

You are at school. You notice a young man laughing loudly with his friends, but they all suddenly become distant and quiet-ish, with one person, a quiet, reserved loner, entering the room. The pack could be whispering to each other while the person notices the sudden whispering. They may not make eye contact but whisper loud enough for the person to hear them (“I wouldn’t be caught dead in pink overalls!…”). They text each other and giggle, unaware of how and why they are laughing exactly, but let’s say we could later see that they texted lines like “Does he EVER TALK?!!?” and “😂 I still laugh when he said: CooAFee! ☕”. As we notice further from passive-aggressive comments given to the person, such as mocking the person’s mispronunciation of the word coffee or how the person is dressed. We may notice a sudden demeanor changes when someone with more power comes into the room, like a teacher, when the pack gives the teacher compliments, smiling at the teacher, and behaving well while having a more intellectual discourse on history. We may learn how they dislike the teacher by what they were laughing at before the excluded person entered the room; they were making fun of the teacher for traits relating to level-1 Autism, such as the teacher’s eccentric habits (“does he shower with his blue sweater?”, “I bet he never dated before!” “He looks like the fat version of Ned Flanders!” *mimicking his monotonic speech pattern*).

Amazing what we can learn just by observing a switch of roles! We understand the pack is a group of students who excludes people, more directly in the lower position of power, indirectly in a higher position of power, in varying ways while exhibiting a hive-mind collective attitude!

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