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Dramatalurgical approach

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Goffman’s dramaturgical approach is infused by the idea of the world as stage: the stage (world) populated by actors (individuals) taking many different roles is the central metaphor in Goffman’s framework. The theater comparison is taken wholeheartedly, and Goffman coined several terms that maintain the theme.

Front stage where we perform a role, with careful adherence to the norms of that role. This is the realm of Cooley’s I. In contradistinction to the front stage is the back stage where we absorb the requisites to believably perform in the front stage; this is the constantly learning and adjusting realm of Me.

This learning and adjusting of how the self is presented to others is known as impression management; it is an adjustment in the presentation of the self. However, in response to embarrassment, face-work is an attempt to re-color the circumstances. After being rejected by a love interest, my impression management would be to behave differently next time; and face-work would be claiming that he was not all that interesting anyways.

Impression management and face-work are evident in social interactions and have different drives, though both share a common thrust: the desire to improve how others interpret our self.