Goffman's Theory On Social Performance

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One of the fundamental principles in Golffman’s theory on social performance lies in the division between the performers and the audience. Accompanying this dichotomy is the separation of social spheres into “front stage” and “back stage”, in which different principles of communication and behavior govern the actions of the players involved . Under this framework, social scenarios bear resemblance to different performance settings, and individuals may assume particular roles and team with different partners as they move between different social realms. The flexibility of this model, however, poses a unique challenge when we try to apply Goffman’s theory to a macro-level depiction of the society, primarily because of the absence of a single,…show more content…
Unlike capitalist societies described by C. Wright Mill, in which a small fraction of nebulous “Power Elite” controls economic and political power under a democratic camouflage, authoritarian society is marked by a clearly defined ruling group—often in the form of a political party and its puppet institutions. Such a ruling group dominates the political sphere of the society so that at a macroscopic scale, a line between the “performer” and the “audience” could be unambiguously drawn. A “Party-State” would thus be an ideal scenario for evaluating Goffman’s theory on social performance. The very existence of these societies is not only a political but also a social issue: to explain under Goffman’s framework why some authoritarian societies collapsed while others still prosper today, one has to understand how these society-wide performances are orchestrated and sustained, and what fatal errors could possibly lead to its…show more content…
To expand this paradigm into an institution spanning across the Party-state requires an exclusive sphere of communication within the ruling party. In order to maintain its own solidarity, a nation-wide back stage has to face the challenge of geographically dispersed members and possible chaos of random information flow. Insider information must be rapidly propagated throughout this gigantic machinery of power but kept untouchable by the general population; also, it is equally disastrous to allow the party to be overwhelmed by undirected communication from
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