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Chapter 12: Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy

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Brittany Speer

on 18 October 2012

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Transcript of Chapter 12: Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy

Irvin Goffman & Arlie Russell Hochschild Chapter 12: Symbolic Interactionism & Dramaturgy Symbolic Interactionism ...continued Erving Goffman (1922-1982) Influences & Core Ideas "Interaction Order" The process of interpretation is carried out through a conversation of gestures involving significant symbols (words and gestures whose meaning is shared by those engaged in interaction).
Self-Consciousness- the ability to see oneself as others do and thus anticipate responses to one's behavior
"Joint Action"- the larger collective form of action that is constituted by the fitting together of the lines of behavior of the separate participants. Can range from simple interactions between two people, to large organizations or institutions.
Individuals must construct a shared interpretation, by becoming an object of one's self, of each other's gestures. Goffman explored how social arrangements themselves, and the actual physical copresence of individuals shapes the organization of the self.
The individual must rely on others to complete the picture of him of which he himself is allowed to paint only certain parts.
Goffman looks at the "scene" within which individuals orient their actions to one another.
Both the dynamics of social encounters and the image of one's self are dependent on the willingness of others to "go along" with the particular impression that an individual is seeking to present. Term coined by Herbert Blummer with inspiration from the ideas of George Herbert Mead.
Detailed, empirical studies used to explore how individuals understand and negotiate their everyday life.
Three premises Blummer used as the basis of understanding of a symbolic interactionalist's approach to life. (1) That human beings act towards things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them. i.e. physical objects, other human beings, institutions, and guiding ideals (2) That the meaning of such things is derived from the social interaction that one has with one's with one's fellows. (3) That these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he encounters. (Blummer 1969:2)
Like Mead, Blummer highlighted the significance of meaning, interaction, and interpretation to the fitting together of individual's lines of action.
Based on constructing the meaning of objects or another person's actions Erving Goffman is probably one of the most important sociologists in relation to the self. His book--Presentation of Self--remains an important book in this field. Goffman's approach is sometimes referred to as the dramaturgical model.
After receiving his doctorate, Goffman spent 3 years as a visiting scientist at the National Institution of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
During that time he conducted fieldwork at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., a federal mental institution with more than 7,000 patients.
His research produced one of the landmark sociological books "Asylums" (1961).
Referred to himself as an "empiricist" or "social psychologist".
"Universal human nature is not a very human thing. By acquiring it, the person becomes a kind of construct, built up not from inner psychic propensities but from moral rules impressed upon him from without." (1967:45) Influenced by George Herbert Mead. We experience ourselves, or are aware of, ourselves not directly, but, rather, indirectly through taking the attitude of others towards ourselves. The self is a product of social interaction during which individuals engage in an internal conversation and interpret others' responses to their conduct.
Who we think we are is a reflection of the organized set of attitudes of others that the individual assumes.
Impression Management- notion that we see ourselves as an object, as others see us. It is the controlling of what we do and don't say and do, and how we do and don't say and do it, that speaks to taking the attitude of the other.
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