Erving Goffman: Self, interactionism,dramaturgy & frame analysis Sm4134 Visual Ethnography & Creative Intervention Linda C.H. LAI March 11, 2009
SELF Dualistic view of self: Socialized self Unsocialized self Impression management
SOCIAL SELF Vs UNSOCIAL SELF Dualistic view of self: • Self is a social product, with no underlying personal core • Yet there is an unsocialized component to the self that drives the individual into and out of social intercourse and sometimes impels the individual to behave against social norms.
IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT Dualistic view of self: • Individuals are not entirely determined by society as they are still able to manipulate strategically the social situation and impression management. • And yet they are not totally free to choose the images of self they would have others accept, but are often limited by their statuses, roles, and relationships they are assigned within the social order.
Morality & ethics: Morality is NOT intrinsically from within. Morality is manufactured through performances and interactions. Our attachment to the moral order is based on our attachment to face.
i. The Nature of Social Life: some important metaphors Drama Ritual Game Face
INTERACTIONISM “Dramaturgy”: …a mode of social analysis that employs dramatic concepts - performances, props, backdrops, scenery, scripts, scenarios, etc. - to describe and understand everyday interaction.
ii. Inter-subjectivity: Individuals’ bringing into play a host of information about each other -- appearance (dressing codes), socioeconomic position, self-conception, attitudes towards people etc. – when they meet in everyday life settings.
Inter-subjectivity: Two kinds of exchange – “gives” (verbally) “gives off” (the kind of impression s/he delivers)
Inter-subjectivity: “Self” is a construct (NOT attributes). “Self” is not wholly controlled and decided by its owner. “Self” is partly understood against the overall scene of interaction.
Goffman looks for "a social establishment" with "fixed barriers to perception" and he finds the family: • The effectively desired impressions are produced • How power and control are exercised over others • Vertical and horizontal structures inside the family • What the family tolerates or rejects as behavior by its members • Dramaturgical analysis:role-playing, daily rituals, what kind of negotiation process when some thoughts and behavior contradict the common understanding
iii. Social Experience: Social experience is governed by “frames.”
FRAME a resource for agency [a term used by Bateson] definitions of a situation…which govern subjective involvement [in this class] a way to interpret and organize visual data
FRAME “Frames are principles of selection, emphasis and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters.” (Todd Gitlin, 1980: The Whole World is Watching. P. 6. See also, Thomas König’s article…) Latent frames… Manufactured frames… “To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them move salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation.” (Entman, pp. 51-8) To name a frame… Frame selection…
“Frame”: • Frame refers to principles of organization which define the meaning and significance of social events. • Framing is bracketing an activity to provide some sort of cue as to what the bracketed activity means. • The meanings of events, actions, performances and selves depend on framing – they do not speak for themselves. • Meanings rely on framing, but individuals are NOT free to frame experience as they please.
Frame analysis the examination of the organization of experience
EXPERIENCE Goffman uses a special term to describe the framedexperience for analysis: “Strips of experience/activity” (Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, pp. 10, 83, 564) A strip is a slice/segment from the stream of an ongoing activity, whether a natural segment or an artificial one, seen from the perspective of those subjectively involved.
Frame analysis Philosophical roots: MIND PERCEPTION “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” (W.I. Thomas, social psychologist)
Frame analysis Multiple Realities: “What is reality?” “Under what circumstances do we think things are real?” “The important thing about reality…is our sense of its realness in contrast to our feeling that some things lack this quality.” (Goffman Reader, p. 150) “In what conditions are feelings of realness generated? It is about our bility to define a situation.
Frame analysis …the ability to define a situation… Rules that are necessary to generate a world of a different kind… Principles of organization which govern events + our subjective involvement
Frame analysis …the examination of the organization of experience …via understanding what observable rules define a situation …and how individuals’ subjective involvement is organized.
Frame analysis Frame… From the language of camera Selective attention Visual frame as well as conceptual frame Absence/presence Inside/outside of frame
Entering a frame… shock sudden thrust from or step into a certain world: e.g. the curtain of a stage play, the frame of a landscape painting, falling asleep and leap into the world of dreams, a child’s toy which serves as a transition into the play-world
Frame analysis Different frames produce different subjects. No single perspective No pure situations No finite characterization of the same event
Frame analysis Different frames produce different subjects. No single perspective. Different people within the same group may have very different views. No pure situations -“What is it that’s going on here?” a biased question -Many things happen simultaneously. -The beginning and end of each action is dissynchronous. -There a difference between “what is before the eyes” and “what happened before the observer arrives. No finite characterization of the same event -The same situation may not be experienced as the same game.
Frame analysis: Goffman’s list Types of framing in strips of activities: Fabrications Keys and Keyings Frame breaks Theatrical frames, Out-of-frame activity, Misframing, Frame disputes
KEYS & KEYINGS …represents a basic way in which activity is vulnerable; to closely pattern an activity after something that already has a meaning in its own terms
FABRICATIONS …referring to the “intentional effort of one or more individuals to manage activity s that a party of one or more others will be induced to have a false belief about what’s going on. Fabricators Deceivers The operatives To be contained in a construction or fabrication
THEATRICAL FRAMES …applying the language of a theatrical performance to describe the situation… “A performance is…that arrangement which transforms an individual into a stage performer…[who is] being an object that can be looked at in the round and at length without offense, and …by persons in an ‘audience’ role.” Script Protagonists Antagonists Front stage Back stage Props Roles audience
FRAME BREAKS / BREAKING FRAME …improper involvement “…a performer can find not only that the scene itself has suddenly failed to sustain his show, but also that now the script he himself is attempting to follow leads him to further discredit the realm he has been fostering… “one has an individual breaking frame without the requirement of improper involvement.
OUT-OF-FRAME ACTIVITY …when an actor literally fails to contain himself during performance of his part he can, of course, attempt to assimilate this disruption to the character he is projecting, as if, in fact, the discrepancy had been part of the script, and fellow performers may attempt to cooperate in this covering, adjusting their own lines and actions to contain the event naturally…
FRAME ANALYSIS OF TALK • C.13 “The Frame Analysis of Talk” in Frame Analysis is most relevant to the Talking Head exercise. -Speaking (as a kind of strip of activity) can be featured as a possibility, a likelihood, or a requisite… Analysis of “strips of speaking” can also be the analysis of the act of saying things. -Strips are subject to transformations, so are spoken statements… “flood out…” -The role of words as a source of misframing for their recipients: Context helps to rule out unintended meanings (to avoid misunderstanding), but that relies on cultural competence of the interpreters. Cultural incompetency leads to verbal misframing
Concepts of Frame Analysis Narrative Fidelity Whether a frame is line with the life experiences of its addressees. Empirical credibility The fit between a frame and a real world events Generic frames Dominating frames in media discourses These factors decide whether a certainly frame is desirable.
Concepts of Frame Analysis Issue-oriented frames Vs episodic frames IOF – focus on issues and policies embedded in their wider context EF – focus on events and persons, allowing the divorces of issues from their wider context
Reference • *Barnhart, Adam D., 2007(?): “Erving Goffman: the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” http://www.hewett.norfolk.sch.uk/curric/soc/symbol/goffman.htm • *Goffman, Erving, 1986, 1974: Frame Analysis: an Essay on the Organization of Experience; with foreword by Bennett Berger. Northeastern University Press, Boston. • __________, 1997: The Goffman Reader, edited with introductory essays by Charles Lemert and Ann Branaman (Blackwell, Malden, Massachusetts) • König, Thomas, 2007(?): “Frame Analysis: Theoretical Preliminaries.” http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/methods/publications/frameanalysis/ • *Van den Berg, Bibi, 2007(?): “Self, Script and Situation: Identity in a world of ICTs.” http://www.cs.kau.se/IFIP-summerschoolpapers/S02_P1_Bibi_van-den_Berg.pdf