chapter  2
Gender Display
ByErving Goffman
Pages 27

Gender displays, like other rituals, can iconically reflect fundamental features of the social structure; but just as easily, these expressions can counterbalance substantive arrangements and compensate for them. Displays vary quite considerably in the degree of their formalization. Displays very often have a dialogic character of a statement-reply kind, with an expression on the part of one individual calling forth an expression on the part of another, the latter expression being understood to be a response to the first. A version of display for humans would go something like this: Assume all of an individual's behavior and appearance informs those who witness him, minimally telling them something about his social identity, about his mood, intent, and expectations, and about the state of his relation to them. Displays thus provide evidence of the actor's alignment in a gathering, the position he seems prepared to take up in what is about to happen in the social situation.