chapter  1
Sociological Perspectives—Society as Drama
Pages 12

We thus arrive at a third picture of society, after those of the prison and the puppet theater, namely, that of society as a stage populated with living actors. This third picture does not obliterate the previous two, but it is more adequate in terms of the additional social phenomena we have considered. That is, the dramatic model of society at .which we have arrived now does not deny that the actors on the stage are constrained by all the external controls set up by the impresario and the internal ones of the role itself. All the same, they have options-of playing their parts enthusiastically or sullenly, of playing with inner conviction or with "d is tance ," and, sometimes, of refusing to play at all. Looking at society through the medium of this dramatic model greatly changes our general sociological perspective. Social reality now seems to be precariously perched on the cooperation of many individual actors-or perhaps a better simile would be that of acrobats engaged in perilous balancing acts, holding up between them the swaying structure of the social world.