Dramaturgical model is a theory which interprets
individual behavior as the dramatic projection of a chosen
self. Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective stemming from symbolic interactionism. As used by Erving Goffman (1922-1982) and symbolic interactionists
since, dramaturgical model is a metaphor for understanding human interaction and how
humans present their self in society.
In dramaturgical model, all the world is conceived as a
stage and individuals are seen as actors who present a show of their self by putting their
best foot forward. The dramaturgical model metaphor is extended by Erving Goffman through
concepts such as front stage, back stage and presentation
of self. Goffman sees social interaction as
involving impression management.
Erving Goffman in his dramaturgical model of social
relations, sees social life literally in terms of actors acting, that is, all of us are
like actors on a stage, presenting a play. A social actor wants to feel that he or she is
performing the role that he or she is playing well.
In a dramaturgical model, social interaction is analyzed
as part of a theatrical performance. People are actors who must convey their personal
characteristics and their intentions to others through performances.
Dramaturgy or dramaturgical model emphasizes
expressiveness as the main component of interactions. It is termed a "fully two-sided
view of human interaction".
Dramaturgical perspective is a sociological paradigm separated from other sociological
theories because it does not examine the cause of human behavior but the context.
The Dramaturgical Model of Behavior: Its
Strengths and Weaknesses
Bruce Wilshire, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Symbolic Interaction, Fall
1982, Vol. 5, No. 2
Abstract: By means of the dramaturgical model we freshly illuminate social behavior as
role-like performances in which persons manage the impressions that others get
of them. This impression management involves the concealment of data in a
dramatic struggle with those others who wish to penetrate one's
mask. But the chief limitations of the dramaturgical model are that it excites
the invalid inferences that offstage roles are more like stage actors' roles
than they really are, and that the person is nothing but these roles. The
differences between onstage and offstage behavior are kept in view when the metaphorical
concept of role playing is re-connected to its source in
role playing onstage. Through an analysis of theatre and the concepts of appearance and
time we conclude that while we must appear to others in a role-like way
offstage in order to be ourselves, we are nevertheless involved in world-time offstage in
a way that fundamentally distinguishes our role-playing from an actor's role
playing. We are our roles, but not just our roles.
The Psycho-Social Bases of Scatological Humor:
The Unmasking of the Self - William G. Plank
Abstract: Using Erving Goffman's model of dramaturgical sociology (The Presentation of
Self in Everyday Life, Garden City: 1959), we can see that scatological humor removes the
props by which the self attempts to create and control its image: clothing, privacy,
secrecy, composition of the face, and self-control. There is a general debasement of the
human individual and at the same time an exaltation of the basic organic existence of the
self. This situation, whether in jokes or literature, can be precisely expressed in
Sartrean (and generally in an existentialism vocabulary):
Scatological humor, unexpected flatulence, public excretion and other such acts are the
proof of the independent behavior of the en-soi, which reveals the ultimate facticity (the
rootedness of the pour-soi in the en-soi) of the pour-soi and destroys the latter's claims
to be the origin of itself, of its freedom, and threaten the very existence of the
pour-soi. This reduction of the self to flesh is Sartre's definition of sadism. We are
then encouraged to develop the following hypothesis: Scatological humor is more evident in
a society where strong individualism is a cultural value: conversely, scatological humor would be less obvious in a
society where the individual was of lesser importance, where his identity was created by
fixed social roles or by strong tribal definitions.