Comparing Erving Goffmans Social Actors to Parson's Action/General Theory Essay
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Given that Erving Goffman’s social actors’ perform roles that ‘’incorporate and exemplify the officially credited values of the society’’ analyse the extent to which such actors are not dissimilar to the passive role obedient individuals found in Parsons’ general theory.
The aim of this essay is to compare the similarities between Goffman’s social actors who conform to every day societal norms through their performances and Parson’s role obedient individuals who can be seen to do the same through his Action Theory. Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) aims to analyze ones daily life in terms of the actions and performances we give in order to maintain certain impressions of ourselves to others. Goffman used the idea of performances and actors to display the way in which humans developed their knowledge of people and society, then performed accordingly to the norms of what was expected of them (Goffman, 1959).Likewise, Parson’s action theory is based on how actors as individuals conform to social order through a process of action, goals, conforming to norms and values and dealing with problems appropriately (Wallace and Wolf, 2006). Knapp describes how "people act on the basis of their values; their actions are oriented and constrained by the values and norms of people around them; and these norms and values are the basis of social order" ( 1994:191-192). As this essay progresses, the comparison of both Parson’s and Goffman’s theory’s will be expressed in order to understand the way in which society controls the actions and goals of people in their everyday lives and how both functionalist and symbolic interactionist views can be linked to social order and norm expectations.
Erving Goffman was a key micro-sociologist and symbolic interactionist who was interested in the ways in which people were influenced and affected by their surroundings