Erving Goffman Dramaturgy: Concept, Backstage, Encounters Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Erving Goffman Dramaturgy: Concept, Backstage, Encounters | Sociology

Title: Erving Goffman


  • Canadian American sociologist
  • 1922 - 1982
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959
  • Micro sociology
  • Symbolic interactionism to study Interaction in society
  • Dramaturgical approach
  • Roles we take - Social roles


  • Borrowed from theatre – idea of roles
  • A metaphor to represent how people behave in society and represent themselves
  • Individuals are the actors and the society is a stage
  • Social life as theatre or drama
  • Facial expressions, postures during daily interactions
  • Individuals have internalised the signals of socialization

Front Stage or Region

  • Social setting – surrounded by people
  • Pretend to mingle at new setting
  • Audience
  • Interaction
  • On stage performance
  • Expected to behave in a certain way
  • Certain degree of formality

Back Stage

  • Private realm of life
  • Informal and relaxed
  • Alone
  • Act is over or dismissed
  • No social setting
  • Being yourself
  • The aspect of self which we really are
  • No need for impression building

Concept of Encounters


  • Situations when individuals or groups meet with each other
  • Unfocused interaction or attention – individuals show awareness of one another but do not directly focus on one another – civil inattention
  • Focused interaction – directly interact to what others say or do


Q. 1. Which of these does not represent front stage setting in the society?

1. Dinner table

2. Classroom lecture

3. Award ceremony

4. Playing with your pet

Answer: 4

Q. 2. We use various mechanisms, called ________ to present ourselves to others

1. Sign Vehicles

2. Personal space

3. Gestures

4. Physical stature

Answer: 1

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