chapter
Critiques of Dramaturgy
Pages 13

We feel that this critique is not nearly so damning as those who proffer it do. First, to understand how people interact in Western society is no small achieve­ ment. Neither is it trivial to accomplish an understanding of how people's humanness emerges and is established in situational encounters. Secondly, and even more important, the view that dramaturgy is tied to a specific culture is just not so. The dramaturgical principle that people's doings are expressive, seems to be well-documented in the anthropological literature (Turner, 1974; Geertz, 1983). After all, man is an active expressive being (Dewey, 1922) no matter where you find him. On the other hand, there is little doubt that the awareness and utilization of the dramaturgical principle is surely variable, both within and without the Western world. The critics are at least correct in pointing out that there are certain features of contemporary Western society that have elevated this form of awareness to a higher priority than in other cultures and at other times within our own. Surely, the situational arrangements that emerge in a mass indoor society where people's appearances of one another are often confined to a relatively narrow range of segmented situations and times, are quite often different than they would be in a non-mass outdoor society which offers more of a theater-in-the-round when it comes to the possibilities of knowing one another. In summary, while awareness of the dramaturgical principle may vary from timeto-time and place-to-place, more elevated in people's consciousness at some times and in some places, and virtually nonexistent in others, the principle itself does not-it represents a culture universal since it is not possible to conceive of a society whose members have no forms of expressive communication.