3.3 Social Interaction in Early Childhood: Can you explain the dramaturgical approach?

3.3 Expound on the dramaturgical approach


This model was developed by Erving Goffman  (1922-1982), an American Sociologist. From the title you can deduce that the theory is related to some kind of drama. According to the theory social interaction often involves “dramatization.”  In dramaturgical approach, interacting individuals are viewed like characters in a theatrical scene. Considering that there is role playing, it is not easy to understand factors that underlie participants’ behaviour.

Erving Goffman

The model draws attention to the significance of the way in which the interactions define their situations and the relationship between them. From what we know in drama, actors and actresses play their roles according to the idea that is being communicated. This means that their role at a particular scene determines the interaction. In such scenes, one person acts differently in different situations.


The approach argues that as people interact they seek to present   some features of their personalities and hide others. Just as actors present certain images, all people keep on playing the roles as defined by the situation. There are times when the individuals become themselves and act naturally. Nonetheless as people interact in a formal situation, their responses are more of acting than revealing the personality facets. We can all attest to this as we focus on teacher-child, or pastor- congregation relationship.  A child whose teacher is the mother will remember to address the mother in the socially accepted way of relating with teachers. At home the same child will address the same person as mother.


In this light we can say that people seek to conform to many agreed upon yet unstated standards of interactions. That is people define the situation for themselves and act or respond accordingly.   Considering this argument it is not easy to tell what brings people together or the orientations of people who interact with one another.


Give 3 other examples of interaction scenarios that are likely to be more of acting than natural relationships


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