chapter  23
Dramaturgy and Political Mystification: Political Life in the United States
Pages 12

A major concern of political sociology is with the social processes by which political power is converted into authority. This general phenomenon can be viewed dramaturgically since authority is a form of impression management attempting to make rational and legitimate a society's distribution of political power, especially when the many are subjugated by the few. From a sociological standpoint, there exists no natural or necessary rights of a group of powerful individuals to control the lives of others, the transformation of power into authority is a social process which involves both political ideologies and a technology facilitating the mobilization of support and loyalty of a sector of the population which finds itself under the power of a regime. When the transforma­ tion of power into authority is attempted in hierarchical or class societies there often occurs the resistance of those whose domination is being made "legiti­ ma te . " It is characteristic of such societies that the dramatization of authority, if confronted with the actuality of resistance or the threat of resistance, will rely heavily on processes of mystifying the social relations based upon class and power.