Thursday, March 17, 2011

Goffman - Out-of-Frame Activity

Goffman, Erving. "Out-of-Frame Activity." From Alexander, Jeffrey C., and Steven Seidman. Culture and Society: Contemporary Debates. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

This rather hilarious essay observes human action within particular frames. For example, a British palace guard is, while on-duty, constantly within a frame and utterly unable to do any action outside of his ritual military discipline.

Goffman also explores how, when individuals are incorporated into various frames, their existence as human machines will force them to deal with their desire to shift, scratch, yawn, cough or fart. The four ways to deal with this are 1. suppress, 2. release and treat as though it had not occurred OR ask permission to become out-of-frame, 3. Shield the release, 4. Assume liberties or ask for liberties to release.

He sets two extremes of framed activity: military parade grounds of strict discipline and board games of extremely informal framing.

Key Terms
disattend - assume a distraction to be out of frame for various reasons: 1. Profession, as a janitor in an office or a body guard standing next to a politician. 2. audience habit, as a visible stage hand, 3. audience/participant extreme engagement, soldier wounded in war disattends pain, gambler at casino disattends disturbances

connectives - Locating devices particularly in language: watching a speaker's lips move, "he said" in novels which help the hearer/reader understand the spatial arrangement. Goffman notes that these are stereotyped, but are not judged as such because they are very little seen

interaction competency - "capacity to cope with a range of disruptions - anticipated and unanticipated - while giving them the minimal apparent attention..." 112

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