Goffman’s Dramaturgy: A case study analysis for potential inclusion in communication theory studies

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Dell, Jennifer
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis presents Erving Goffman’s dramaturgy as a useful framework to advance our understanding of the functionality of communication. While Goffman’s work has been acknowledged and accepted as contributing to the understanding of interactive communication, often a comprehensive understanding of Goffman’s dramaturgy is absent from communication theory textbooks. In this thesis, Goffman’s dramaturgy is applied to an act of public communication to provide a strong argument for an increased and more comprehensive inclusion of his work in the field of communication studies. Using a critical discourse analysis (CDA) methodology coupled with Goffman’s dramaturgy, this thesis examines the performance of Ed Burkhardt during an impromptu press conference held in Lac-Mégantic, after the train derailment. It finds the CEO’s performance is strained by his selected role, normative pressures to conform to audience expectations, and a failed attempt to influence the frame. CDA is discovered to be a suitable methodology to be used with Goffman’s dramaturgy because it encourages the researcher to include contemplations at both a micro and macro level.
Erving Goffman , Dramaturgy , Communication theory , Critical Discourse Analysis , Lac-Mégantic