No. 032



T. R. Young
The Red Feather Institute

May, 1978
[Revised, September 13, 1994]


Distributed as part of the
TRANSFORMING SOCIOLOGY SERIES of The Red Feather Institute, 8085 Essex, Weidman, Michigan, 48893.

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An earlier version of this paper appeared in the journal of Urban Life 9(2):135­162.
Reprinted with permission.



All Science is a Poetics and a Politics


This paper adds critical dimensions to dramaturgical analysis by locating the various uses of dramaturgy in the larger political economy in which it is found. The case is made that, in the last forty years or so, the use of the technology of theatre in concert with social science technology as well as mass electronics technology for the exploitative management of workers, customers, students, and voters has approached an art form. In market, politics, religion and other social realms, dramaturgy is used more to manage understanding rather than, as in most of history, to celebrate, to critique and to enliven social life.

INTRODUCTION Dramaturgical technology, sold as a commodity in the marketplace, effectively establishes a division of labor in the construction of social reality. In modern market societies, there is a professional cadre available to construct, dramaturgically, any form of social reality ordered in the market. At a microlevel of analysis, catered weddings, parties, and dinners are produced by paid specialists. Corporations, politicians, and religious functionaries also use well trained specialists to construct dramaturgical facsimiles of social reality which do not pretend to be make-believe in the marketplace, in election campaigns as in the new emerging electronic ministries.

At a more macro-level of analysis; entire societies, political parties, governments, universities, the military and transnational corporations hire producers, directors, stage managers, actors, writers, and editors to fashion whatever image of social life and social meaning serves the purposes of those who purchase the reality-construction process as commodity. This contrasts to the assertions made by Cooley, Mead, Berger, Blumer and others in an earlier, more innocent Symbolic Interactional tradition that social reality is constructed by intending humans in the act of living everyday life.

Cultural marxists, critical theorists and postmodern critics, appreciating the oppressive and exploitative character of modern forms of reality construction, censure symbolic interactionists, dramaturgical analysts, ethnomethodologists and phenomenologists as the new theorists of conservatism. The conservative bent in these most useful and otherwise most valuable theories is that, rather than examining the full run of social life, symbolic interactionists, ethnomethodologists as well as phenomenologists focus upon the day to day life of privileged individuals who, in fact, do embody most of the propositions and understandings of these depoliticized and miniaturized hermeneutical sciences.

Science as Politics In their critique of Ethnomethodology, Phenomenology, and Symbolic Interaction, McNall and Johnson (1975) make the trenchant observation that it is useful to realize that all social theories arise out of a specific economic and social milieu. Dramaturgical analysis, in particular, arose just as the commodification of the reality process in advertizing, public relations, community relations as well as career advisers and agents appeared on the social landscape. In the 1930's, along with the advent of depth psychology, mass marketing research, radio, and an ever accumulating 'surplus' production, dramaturgy had both the means and the motive to attempt to bend human consciousness to the 'scientific' solution to the problem of profits and market. The arts of impression management were put to use to create, via the mass media, dramaturgical images of quality and service.

A corollary to this position is that the dominant theories of an era are parsimonious verbal accounts of the dominant economic and social relations in the social order in which they appear. As a social order changes, a given theoretical paradigm loses its validities and saliencies and new theories take center stage. Out of the sober and serious and quite sincere milieu of primary group interaction, symbolic interactional theory was developed along with its assumptions of shared meaning, collective creative of mind, self and society; a 'self fulfilling prophecy,' a 'looking glass' process. The 'generalized other' was taken to constitute the foundation stone of human social psychology embodying as it did the expectations, obligations and internalized social control mechanisms which saturate folk societies and socialization. There were and still are solid grounds for making such assumptions and using such concepts; good for most people most of the time.

The Sociology of Fraud
However the sociology of fraud: conning, manipulating and giving off of images, which bore but slight resemblance to the prophecies embodied in folk societies as a cottage art practiced by a few and known to be fraudulent by most. Only in modern stratified society with its mass markets, massified medical system, mass electronic ministries and mass education can the sociology of fraud succeed for so long with so many people. Advertizing agencies can fool enough people long enough to elect politicians, sell their products, repair damage to public opinion by corporations, and refresh the hoar leper to the April Day.

In the past 100 years, that cottage craft has grown to a full blown industry. Today, hundreds of thousands of skillful artists, musicians, cinematographers, writers, directors, actors, and editors work assiduously to project convincing images of service, quality, economy, and honest agency. Today, billions of dollars are spent to buy the means to produce meaning in markets, in sports, in medicine, in politics and yes, even in religion. 1 The best hours of the evening bring the highest price in the marketplace of dreams, fancies, desires and fantasies. The best athletes, the most esteemed actors, the best regarded public figures all sell that esteem and that honor to the merchants of impression management.

There are good reasons why the sociology of fraud continues in the central institutions of modern mass society. First is the character of interaction; short-term, narrowly focussed and, in bureaucracies, mediated by layer after layer of clerks, foremen and women, supervisors, agents, administrators, deans, chairs, secretaries and other functionaries. Then too, the time lapse between the prophecy and the performance is long enough to be complicated by intervening variables which exculpate the maker of prophecy; quality, economy, value and honest agency. Even when the prophecy fails and is known to fail, still there are enough innocent, believing, trusting and hoping souls in the mass market to make the sociology of fraud a growth industry. Finally, in a semi-closed economy, there are few good choices in the health care system, in the market place, in public education or in religious sphere of social life to which the disenchanted might turn for better service, care, goods or spiritual guidance.

In all this fraud, there are dimensions of power which serve the interests of the makers of fraudulent prophecies about social life as well as essential social goods and services. With the full force of the law behind them, with economic power to buy advertizing and legal counsel, with private security personnel and sanctioned use of physical power, and with the ideology of the free market on their side, those who engineer the sociology of fraud are beyond the reach of justice. Those insiders who do blow the whistle are treated, summarily, to these various forms of power. When outsiders blow the whistle, their fund of knowledge is so small and fragmented that it can be easily 're-interpreted' by professional managers and molders of public opinion. Every major agency from the Fortune Five Hundred to incumbent and past presidents enjoy the services of P.R. people who can put the best possible face on any given set of acts, words, or events.

Sociology as Emancipatory Science
Given these propositions about the socio-political character of social and psychological theories, the value-full scientist does not search so much for the eternal verities of truth and fact but rather engages in the more political task of sorting out the sociology of fraud from more solid relationships. As such, the social scientist has joined in on the priestly function of officiating over the transformation of epistemological categories into ontological categories. Rather than seekers of objective truth and users of pre-existing natural categories of social life and social behavior, the postmodern social psychologist is burdened with the task of deconstructing the reality making process to reveal the human hand and the human intelligence which said, let it be so.

Critical analyses such as McNall and Johnson (1975), Plotke (1975), Gouldner (1970), Psathes (1975), the Schwendingers (1974), as well as many others properly voice their indignation at the audacity of symbolic interactionists and others in offering their theories as innocent of political meaning. McNall, Johnson and others have extracted the conservative bias in ethnomethodology, phenomenology and symbolic interaction by showing that these theories are astructural, ahistorical and falsely liberating.

However, it is not enough to "engage in the relentless criticism" of all social theories--part of the critical enterprise is to transform the conservative and/or alienating tendencies of a social theory into emancipatory tendencies. While McNall and Johnson have provided us with excellent service in making visible the political dimensions of the new genre of theories in sociology, in this paper I would like to suggest that there are possibilities in ethnomethodology, phenomenology, dramaturgical analysis and certainly symbolic interaction which, given visibility in the knowledge process, fuel the emancipatory impulse in sociological theory. While the major concern here is with dramaturgical analysis, the same task awaits those critical theorists interested in ethnomethodology, symbolic interaction, and phenomenology. 2

Emancipatory Knowledge
Critical theory instructs us that there are at least three modes of sociological enterprise helpful to the construction of a rational and decent society (Habermas, 1970). Positivism, invested as it is with a concern with general truths, with prediction and control, is helpful to society by producing knowledge about existing patterns, relationship, and problems. The emancipatory thrust of this central part of the sociological enterprize consists of its abilities to illuminate the positive as well as the negative trends in social data. A society without the capacity to gauge its own behavior in critical areas of social life is ignorant of its past, oblivious to its present and blind to its future.

Hermeneutics, a second mode of scientific enterprise is concerned with the aspects of symbolic interaction by which situated social life worlds are framed by intending subjects. The concern here is the character of intersubjective understanding; its origins and its limitations. This scientific mode examines the phenomenological postulate that the "objects" of social reality are created by knowing, meaning and believing subjects. A growing number of social scientists is regaining interest in this mode of sociology linked as it is to humanism and concerned as it is with alienation; alienation from the reality creating process by women, workers, minorities as well as those whose lives center around the various dramas of the Holy.

While positivism and hermeneutics have a rich theoretical inventory and an extensive repertoire of research methods, the third mode of emancipatory science finds little or no support in, especially North American, sociology. Informed by the human interest in change and renewal, participation and responsibility, emancipatory science is made necessary by the peculiar characteristics of human beings. As the direct agents in the process of fulfilling prophecies of social life, human beings must participate every moment in defining the meaning of interactional frames else these frames lose their social character. The emancipatory capacity of science must be increased in those societies in which structural barriers to that meaningful interaction are erected; racism, gender privilege, class position and bureaucratic echelon all mediate the reality constituting process and must be the object of transformation if the human project is to be expanded to fill its human limits. Apart from marxism and critical theory, there is little in the way of emancipatory science available to the student of sociology with which ground and to guide a practical interest in emancipatory social science.

In its emancipatory modes science is, as Lukacs puts it, "the intellectual expression of the revolution." In more concrete terms, the role of research and theory in opposing and transforming commodity relationships into social relationships is the political expression of science. Emancipatory theory and research acts to mediate human behavior, but not to determine it. Critical research acts to augment reflexivity and human intervention into social forms in its emancipatory mode; research is never used for the private purposes of individuals nor for the managerial purposes of one social group toward another. The general form of an emancipatory dialectic defines the relationships between theory and research on the one hand and between the sociologist and the oppressed client on the other.

The specific emancipatory interest in this paper is to facilitate an epistemological break with the naive theoretical framework out of which symbolic interactionists work and, at the same time, to preserve and improve the validities of that tradition. 3 Symbolic interactionists assume that the way to find out how social reality is constructed is to watch people, in their everyday lives, constructing it. This seems reasonable enough at first, but this assumption ignores the larger constraints in the political and economic realm which pre-shape and set limits on behavior. It also ignores the cultural ethos which marks the capitalist social paradigm. And, in advanced capitalist society, it fails to deal with the fact that the means to produce social reality is converted into a commodity and sold to whomever has the price. The dynamics of capitalism work such that, in the mass society, only the wealthier national and multinational corporations can afford to purchase the means of producing reality. It is these points which require an epistemological break. If one wishes to know the sources of social reality: groups, occasions, self, roles, meanings as well as these larger structures of power and privilege, ethnomethodologists, phenomenologists, dramaturgical analysts and others, then one must examine all of the means for producing meaning and the relation people bear to the means of that production.

The major obstacle to the a social life world in which the assumptions of symbolic interactions about the shared character of mind, self and society resides in the alienated use of dramaturgy in its 20th century form. Dramaturgy could be used, as has been the case so often in fiction, poetry, theatre and religion, to celebrate the positivities of social life and to sanctify deep and rich relationships between human beings. Stripped of its ability to illuminate and inform, dramaturgy becomes an alien force about which to be skeptical and cynical.

A Critique of dramaturgical Analysis
Dramaturgical analysis, chiefly in the writings of Erving Goffman, has responded to the hermeneutic interest by inquiring into the everyday activities by which individuals, teams, and organizations bring social reality into being by dramatic stagings, impressions, and playings. There are, however, critical dimensions in dramaturgical analysis which have not been well developed. In a mass society, the marketing of dramaturgical impressions has become big business. While Goffman and his followers have concentrated on a micro-analytic dramaturgy, the larger actors in the society have been embraced by the technology of theatre in concert with social science technology, as well as electronics technology to stage impressions of service, impressions of agency, impressions of quality in the marketplace, at work, in the university and in the polity. The emancipatory point of this article is to investigate the division of labor in the use of dramaturgical analysis as it has developed to date.

The critics of dramaturgical analysis properly focus upon the political sterility of most of the early work in dramaturgical analysis. In addition to the more general critique made earlier, the specific points of criticism are included: a) The absence of any great outrage on the part of those who report on cynical managerial efforts to stage reality, b) the systematic failure to include consideration of the larger social processes/structures which produce the dramaturgy practiced in everyday life, c) failure to critique constructed social reality from a perspective of the moral values claimed in given social paradigms, d) an absence of any coherent theoretical context with which to give dramaturgical analysis a meaning context, and e) unconcern with any systematic exploration of how dramaturgy could amplify the human condition, and f) use of such exotic and ponderous language that ordinary people are mystified and come to believe that the construction of social reality is something so arcane and mysterious that only "scientists" can understand it.

These criticisms are largely valid. The purpose here is to respond to these criticisms and reflect on their meaning for human emancipation. Dramaturgical analysis has far too much to offer as a mode of understanding social life to continue as a dilettantish excursion into sociology and quite too important to be written off by serious radicals as necessarily an exercise in counter-revolution.

Dramatizing Social reality
Dramaturgical analysis is an analytic framework dealing with the ways in which social reality is constructed. The major assumption of a depoliticized dramaturgical analysis is that elements from the theatre may be used as metaphor by which to understand the folk methods by which social reality is constructed in everyday life. The approach used here rejects the notion of dramaturgy as metaphor and views dramaturgy as ideology which gives shape and quality to human interaction while used, in its repressive modes, to construct a fraudulent "social" life-world.

The utility of the elements of theatre as analytic categories by which to do qualitative analysis is not in dispute as between conservative and critical/radical practitioners of the art. Costumes, roles, actors, scripts, directors, cues, rehearsals, performances, impressions given off, props, audiences, editors, re-writes, critics, and financial speculation serve us well in trying to understand the funeral as theatre or the marketplace as make-believe, just-pretend and never-was. Where radical and conservative analysis part company is in the question of whether the world of theatre is a convenient heuristic device or whether the art, craft, and skill of the artisans from the world of "just pretend" are actively engaged in organizing human behavior in the marketplace, polity, welfare and university systems.

The position advanced here is that "metaphor" transforms into ideology the moment a dramatist hires out to a corporate manager to shape the consciousness of human beings in the production of social meaning (Plotke, 1975). This is compatible with the views of Robert Perinbanayagam who asserts that dramaturgy is the "stuff and fiber" of social relations. I differ from Perinbanayagam in asserting that the role of drama in society is to be understood historically. Sometimes it is part of that social magic by which everyday runs of reality are created; sometimes it is separated out to celebrate society itself; sometimes it comes under the control of an elite to legitimate and consolidate its own power. 4 In this epoch of corporate capitalism, it is merely a commodity to be bought and sold along with 0. J. Simpson or the Oakland "A"s. The point of real interest is how may dramaturgy once again as in olden days be turned to the task of vivifying, illuminating and enjoining people to the human endeavor.

Constructing Social Reality
Those social scientists who engage in dramaturgical analysis qua metaphor as McNall and Johnson (1975) charge, are the new conservatives in social science and, as such, defeat the human interest which inform science as an emancipatory practice. The particular human interest here is that each human being, in order to be a competent and morally responsible human being, must engage in the reality creating process with intention, insight, and efficacy. When social life worlds are engineered by skilled practitioners apart from sentient and reciprocal symbolic interaction, both knowledge and moral responsibility are casualty to this use of dramaturgy.

Central to the practice of a critical dramaturgical analysis is the notion of the social paradigm: an ensemble of social actors, cultural values, coherent sets of behavioral events as well as a social prophecy bringing these components into a vibrant, meaningful liminal whole. In the course of everyday life, an ordinary individual is involved in the construction of many social paradigms; some of them of high resolution and carefully bounded; some of low resolution and diffuse in time and space. To accomplish a given social paradigm, a religious service, a family, a classroom, or a job of work, it is necessary that four deeply connected sub-processes of the "self-fulfilling" prophecy be embodied--failure in any one of these four subprocesses aborts the entire procedure by which a social paradigm is constructed. If it is done deliberately with benefits to the architect, then the sociology of fraud obtains.

First, there must be a shared idea of what social life world is under construction. Robert Merton referred to this idea of what kind of reality was being constructed as a 'self-fulfilling prophecy;' W.I. Thomas referred to it as a 'definition of the situation.' The means by which the idea comes to be shared is through a process of symbolic interaction. Words, clothing, and architecture all can be used as symbols to convey an idea of social-life world. Ordinarily, this part of the 'self' fulfilling prophecy is scarcely visible. We go into a building commonly understood as a church at a time when churches services are generally understood to occur; we see a person dressed as priests and ministers often dress; we hear music ordinarily heard in religious dramatizations; we see people dressed beyond the needs of work or climate; we observe their muted comportment; we sense the special nature of the occasion and with, little reflection, we understand that it is a religious rather than a commercial definition of the situation. Indeed we would be most surprized if we were asked to buy a ticket of admission, if there were a lecture on sub-atomic physics or on the theory of complex numbers or a sales pitch from the pulpit. We expect a church service and almost without fail, we get a reasonable facsimile of it in the consequence.

the social life world must be defined as real by all of its putative members. This is a reification phase in which that which is defined as real, is accepted as real. 5 This is accomplished with surprisingly little difficulty for many domains of social life. We would be very surprized, if while in church, some people treated it as a rehearsal [and said, Let's start over again], as a play [and applauded, as lecture [and held up a hand to ask a question, or as a non-event [and turned to talk aloud with friends and neighbors. We understand such occasions to be seriously intended versions of a given social form and we act as if that were true. We do not act as if it were make-believe, just-pretend, not-for-real, or what-if. We have crossed the mid-line between just-pretend and 'really there' and seldom question the truth value of what is occurring.

there must be some performance which is taken to be the publicly known embodiment of that prophecy. In a church service, the minister must offer a sermon which speaks to questions of being and doing in the world. In a class-room, the professor must lecture on a topic relevant to the course description. In a hospital, people must be treated as patients rather than shoppers or communicants or friends. In a government office, people must be treated as citizens rather than as spies, enemies or non-persons. In all such occasions there must be a close and reasonable match between prophecy and performance. Even in sports events, theatrical plays and other instances of make-believe, there is a performance expected which must match the situation as defined. Football players may not 'fool around' on the field; doctors or nurses may not treat the therapeutic process as if it were a date or courting event; teachers may not treat the class-room as if it were a sales office for real estate in Florida.

And, finally,
all of this must be directed to serious human the task of creating social relations, community and the human individual as "species being." Indeed, the difference between 'make-believe' and 'not for real' on the one side and 'serious business' on the other is precisely that; some important consequence is at stake. In most dramas of the Holy; marriage, baptism and funeral, there are serious moral and legal consequences levied upon the practitioners. One cannot go through a marriage ceremony and, immediately after, proceed as if one had no moral or legal responsibility to others in the ceremony. One cannot proceed as if an election were 'just pretend' and not leave office when a duly elected successor arrives. One cannot escape the consequences of any seriously intended activity as may one for 'just-pretend,' 'just fooling around,' 'not-for-real,' or 'what-if.'

The entire process is vulnerable to the sociology of fraud at each of the four phases described above. Emancipatory knowledge is advanced by any analysis which permits the individuals engaged in reality construction to estimate the degree to which fraud obtains. Given an adequate dramaturgical analysis, those whose behavior is organized by the script at hand or those whose interests are betrayed by the failures to perform have the intellectual means to understand their distress and, thereby, the scientific basis to take such political action as necessary to fulfill or to resist the prophecy of social life as contained in the original idea. We will return to explicate the ways in which the remarkable genius of human beings to construct social reality may be turned against them, but first I would like to place this analysis in the larger socio-historical context.

Merchandizing Social Reality in Mass Society
Most of us enter into the construction of social paradigms with the same naivete and with the same easy confidence as did our parents and their parents before that. However, some of us have become professional practitioners in the dramaturgical construction of social reality. As we have become specialists, we come to sell our skill, craft, knowledge, and art on the open marketplace. This marketing of dramaturgical paradigms for managerial purposes has become a big business and intrudes into the life of the individual in society in manifold ways. "The Dramaturgical Society" (Young, Massey and Boland, 1977) attempts to explicate that intrusion in a general way.

Division of Labor in Dramaturgy of Images and Simulacra
Some idea of the extent to which the division of labor in creating images of reality has developed is to be found in the following data. In 1776, with a population of 2.4 million, Advertising Age estimated that $200,000 was spent in advertizing. In 1976, with a population of 210 million, expenditures were running at 34 billion. 6 The advertizing industry grew about 1500 times faster than the population in terms of dollar volume. By 1973, Advertizing Age estimated that there were about 300,000 advertising jobs in agencies and company ad departments. 7 And by 1973 there were 369 ad agencies in the U.S. with billings from $390,000,000 (Young and Rubican) to $304,000 (Contemporary Advertizing Agency). 8

Advertizing Age listed 743 International agencies in 1974. 9 While most effort is spent on image making in the marketplace in order to 'realize' profit, other major institutions with other problems turn to this newly emerging industry. Universities, politicians, churches, and federal agencies also develop specialized cadre for creating dramaturgically persuasive images of excellence, fidelity, states of grace, and authentic agency.

In the marketplace, the use of theatrical technology to create prophecies of quality, images of social utility, impressions of efficacy, or idea of service abounds. Ads for cigarettes create the impression of maturity, masculinity, individuality, competence, or sensuality. Ads for soda pop put forward the prophecy of youth, of community, of peace, fellowship or love. The university uses spectacles of football as well as scientific "stars" to promote the image of excellence. Politicians hire scriptwriters, pollsters, and stage managers to create a convincing impression of agency, concern and competence.

In the marketplace the larger paradigm entails an idea of profit rather than social utility. In the university, the idea which informs the actions of administrators is an image of commercialized research and rationalized administration rather than educational excellence. In the polity, the prophecy to be fulfilled is more often that of service to commercial, financial and industrial interests rather than to women, Afro-Americans, Latinos or of the general good. In each domain of American society, the larger social paradigm under construction is rendered nonvisible by collusion with class, race and gender interests and thereby partakes of the sociology of fraud.

Freedom Rings In a series of ads labeled "Free Enterprise II, the Ad Council attempts to sell Capitalism itself to the American public. The Ad Council will use about $30 million dollars in 'free' space and time on the media and will distribute five to six million copies of a 24-page booklet on the joys of capitalism to grade school and high schools." 10

In 1975, the National Auto Dealers Association proposed a foundation with a three-million dollar annual budget to promote "freedom" of mobility. J. Walter Thompson, an ad agency, created a "free enterprise" ad for Homelite chain saws in 1976. A Florida bank spent $500,000 to stimulate the economy; a savings and loan company in Baltimore uses funds to help "fight crime." The First Pennsylvania Bank explains how America got "hooked" on inflation. The Pioneer Bank in Tennessee spent $107,000 to get across the "real facts" about the private enterprise system. These are but a few of the attempts to buy a dramaturgical image of political events by corporate capitalism. The division of labor is such that the media is used selectively by an expert cadre in advertising and public relations to create an image for public consumption oriented to the needs of whoever can buy the product. The very means to produce meaning thus is converted into a commodity.

Normalizing the Sociology of Fraud
The consumer of the commercial image not only receives a message about a particular product or corporation as part of that 34 billion dollar effort but is also socialized to a social life world in which such a use of dramaturgy is "natural" and ordinary. The industry thus functions as a mechanism for institutionalizing an ideology which gives the legitimacy of "normality" and "taken for granted" to the production and marketing of images. 11

Young people everywhere watch hundreds of thousands of advertisements which do more, much more than colonize and expand desire to fit the needs of corporate capital to dispose of high profit goods in a saturated market; which do more than create a rage to have and to own even when the means to shop and buy are inadequate. There are deep structural effects beyond the purview of the viewer or critic. The division of labor in constructing social reality represents a considerable danger in folk societies where the construction of social reality is "ethnomethodology." By this is meant that the methods and theories of reality construction were folk methods and folk theories; they belonged to everyone on the one hand and were practiced by everyone on the other. This people-oriented responsibility for the construction of everyday life stands in contrast--marked contrast--to a division of labor format in which highly talented specialists monopolize the task of constructing social reality in mass society.

The merchandizing of social reality by a cadre of skilled artists together with psychologists and sociologists, in cooperation with technicians from the world of cinema and television converts a human endeavor into a market commodity available to whomever has the funds with which to purchase the dramaturgical impression of quality, service or honest agency. In the first instance of hostile contrast, the gradual divorcement of the masses from central involvement in the construction of social reality impairs the ability of those concerned to have full awareness and full responsibility for that paradigm in which they are expected to take a role. A purely positivistic epistemology would not be able to discern the fact of loss of meaning by a straight-forward "objective" analysis of social activity. Hermeneutical analysis repairs that oversight.

That loss of responsibility for the construction of a given social paradigm has the effect of removing moral dimensions from the self structure of those who merely play a part without effective power in developing the features of
the social paradigm under construction. Some insight into this implication may be augmented by analogy to tract houses or mass recreation. Just as these goods, constructed and sold without insightful participation of the user robs one of choice and lively participation as well as direct involvement, moral choice and judgment in war, politics, business, and praxical responsible participation in mass society.

Still another serious matter is that, from a symbolic interactionist view, the divorcement of individuals from participation impairs the process by which self is constructed as a directly and fully experienced activity. If society and self are in fact twinborn, they are twinborn in the moment of intention by one party and of attribution by another party. If there is a defect in either psychological process, the assumption about the unity between self and society becomes invalid. In a concrete case, if one is taken to be a social actor by attribution (a nigger, a chick, a soldier, or a massified worker, consumer, student or parishioner) without intentionality on one's own part, then society exists, after a fashion, without self. On the other hand if one only enacts a role without the associated social identity integrated as a permanent feature of the self system, again the linkage between self and society is weak.

The attribution of social identities via mass media proffer an inadequate structural basis for self requiring, as they do, very few unit acts (intentional, meaningful acts). These acts are embodied in very short social 'takes' and center upon shopping and displaying of goods. The interactionally rich and informationally rich matrix of folk societies, kinship and friendship groupings, or of work and church in small towns and large villages is not found in the narrow, managed and impersonal role-takes available in mass politics, mass sports, mass medicine, mass religion or mass education. Still less are they found in the alienated dramaturgy of mass marketeering.

Reflecting upon a society composed of individuals with a flimsy structure of self, one must be concerned. When a socializing process orients all young people to the acquisition of goods and services far beyond their fiscal means, the bases for a great deal of petty crime is laid. When self and mass society are no longer twin-born in that deep and comprehensive way they are in folk societies, desire becomes unfettered by what social psychologists are pleased to call the 'Generalized Other.' Absent the 'Generalized Other' and given that well orchestrated desire to own cars, clothing, housing, and to use services far beyond one's need or means, it seems an easy choice for young people on the street to steal, to prostitute oneself, to join in the sale of illegal drugs and to drop out of school to do so.

When one is middle class and well educated, desire can be pumped several more notches up to and well past middle class income. Doctors, lawyers, stock-brokers are greatly tempted to use their position of trust to gain the fiscal means to enjoy that good life advertized on the various mass media. Those in politics find great temptations placed in their path to sell their public trust to the higher bidder when commodification of services is seen to be normal and when desire for the good life is seen to be the test of character and success. Dramaturgy solves a great many problems for a few but creates a great many more for a great many people.

From the perspective of political sociology, the failure of the self as a primary social control unit is serious indeed. Moral agency becomes endangered as the self system is given over to desire for goods and services rather than to norms, values, and morés of a society. Both self structure as well as informal social control lose efficacy. External control technologies; especially those supportive of a stratified society are a costly and inhuman means of solving the problem of social order. A better and more effective means of generating social order requires, on the one hand, a technology of participation and, at the same time, radically reconstructed structures of self (Young, 1972).

The Market for Dramaturgy
The price of images on radio and television is great. The more expensive advertisements in prime time or during very popular programs can now cost up to $250,000. In a highly stratified economy in which the wealthiest players are managerial elites of huge corporations, dramaturgy is used to advance the interests of corporate capitalism. In a globalized economy run by some 1000 multi-national corporations, dramaturgy facilitates and celebrates the movement of food, resources and the products of overseas labor to those half-dozen rich capitalist societies in which such corporations are based. The net effect of this use of dramaturgy is to widen the gap between rich and poor at home and among nation-states.

The use of dramaturgical technology to serve monopoly capital violates the substantive rationality of economic life; the production of goods and services for human purposes rather than for privatized profit. It colonizes human consciousness and turns it from community interests to commodity desires. It adds to class inequality. It lays the foundation for a great deal of street crime and white collar crime. The advertisements of dramaturgy takes a valuable human invention and turns it against the human project.

Origins of Market Dramaturgy
The underlying dynamic producing a dramaturgical society can be understood best by the rise of the modern giant corporation and its control of the various media, including the mass university. Accepting the Baran and Sweezy (1966) analysis, we find an uneasy peace among the giants in a given commodity sector. Increase of market share could come from either lower prices or better quality...and often do. However both create problems for owners and managers. Normally, price cuts are not used to increase market share since a price war would tend to weaken the class unity needed to control labor struggles and the political process. Improvement of quality requires a large outlay for new ideas and new machinery to produce the better idea. The cost of a new auto plant can run up to $500 million dollars.

Rather than direct confrontation between corporations over price or quality, dramaturgy is used to solve the problem of profits. In order to generate demand in a society with an increasingly large portion of the population excluded from the market place by falling wages and increasing prices, the surplus is disposed by dramaturgically enhancing the merits of a given product. Dramaturgy is cheaper and effective as long as a population continues to believe and act as if things defined as real are real in the consequence.

When the giant corporation can no longer depend upon the trust and naivete of a population, recourse to dramaturgy will not succeed. Given such a solution to the problem of surplus production and surplus population, the state becomes desperate for political legitimacy. That legitimacy itself is a commodity for sale by Spencer-Roberts or any number of ad agencies. 12 In a society with the democratic proclivities of the U.S. and some European states, dramaturgy as a managerial technology has greater utility than do the more oppressive technologies of coercion; police, domestic espionage, terror, and bourgeois law. But the dynamics of elitist states; capitalist, bureaucratic socialism, or politicized feudalities must, in the final analysis, replace dramaturgy with fascism as the social paradigm under construction loses its social character and, thereby, its political legitimacy.

Emancipatory Dramaturgy
The central scientific task of critical dramaturgical analysis is the investigation of social paradigms constructed by professional social life world dramatists as instances of fraud or of authenticity. This task is in contrast to mere description of folk methods by which social reality is constructed as is now the case in the work of Mead, Cooley, Blumer and their followers. The concepts and procedures of dramaturgical analysis point one in the direction of such estimations.

The political task of dramaturgical analysts is to provide publics and groups with those analyses of social fraud or authenticity in order that individuals and groups can decide collectively whether to associate themselves with a given social paradigm, to change that paradigm, or to oppose it. These two tasks, one political and one scientific, underwrite dramaturgical analysis in an emancipatory mode. 13

It is important to remember that the point is not to oppose the use of dramaturgy in social life, but to evaluate the degree to which dramaturgy is used to mystify and to manage one class or group in the interest of another. Dramaturgy is essential to a world of joy, delight, surprise, and enchantment. A world devoid of dramaturgy would be a sterile, stale and dispirited world. More to the point, dramaturgy must be pointed to the process by which human beings sanctify both nature and society. All that is sacred is debased by just that much when dramaturgy is used for commercial or managerial purposes or simply as another commodity.

Dramaturgy as Social Magic
There is a qualitative difference between work and praxis; between treatment and therapy; between a person and a nonperson. That qualitative jump requires the mystery and magic of pretend and imagination. To cross the threshold between nature and society or between fact and value requires a combination dramaturgical elements by which to define a given experience as uniquely human. In ceremonies, celebrations, festivals, holidays; in marriages, graduations, confirmations, investitures and other rites of passage, the elements of dramaturgy may be used to define and to bind off everyday experience from the ineffable, the unknowable, the inexpressible and the mystical. By such social magic, we create social processes not found in the purely physical world. The social process is contaminated when dramaturgy is produced as commodity to solve technical problems of profit and control of masses.

Earlier, I spoke of the four-part process by which social reality was created. I mentioned that, at each phase, the possibility for fraud existed. In this section, I would like to expand and explain how this happens as a guide to the emancipatory use of dramaturgical analysis. I take the 'self-fulfilling' prophecy first.

The Prophecy
: The self-fulfilling prophecy does not "fulfill" itself when the idea of a social paradigm is not publicly known. There are several ways in which the paradigm is rendered nonvisible to those affected by it. In the first instance, a prophecy may be falsely announced. A person could present herself as a 'friend' and yet, later on, do quite unfriendly things. A corporation could announce a product as the best buy, as a safe medicine, as a reliable machine, or as a new product. A politician could announce herself as 'tough on crime' while she sold her vote to organized crime. A nation could use dramaturgy to pronounce itself a democracy when secret police, black-lists, and private under-ground organizations everywhere police and punish dissenters.

A second way in which a social prophecy can be turned into the sociology of fraud is by what Goffman terms boundary collusion. A smaller, secret social reality may be constructed within the boundaries of a larger, known social paradigm. Some of the participants may be colluding to fulfill a privately known prophecy while proclaiming another prophecy in public. A case in point is the attempt of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Halderman to use dramaturgy to create the dramaturgical appearance of an investigation into the Watergate break-in.

In the Watergate tapes, there appears repeatedly the question by Mr. Nixon whether or not it is possible to protect the persons who broke into Watergate as well as the public officers who covered up the break-in. In public, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Ehrlichman gave the dramaturgical impression of accountability; they carefully studied their lines backstage and gave creditable performance frontstage. The Watergate tapes revealed in clear detail the existence of a different, nonvisible social paradigm out of which Mr. Nixon, Mr. Ehrlichman, Mr. Dean and others were working. That paradigm bore little correspondence to the publicly given prophecy of political agency. There were cues, lines, roles, performances, impressions given off, props, actors, audiences, stage-managers, rehearsals and other elements from the world of theatre. But dramaturgy in this case was more than metaphor; it was an ideology which informed its producers as to the character and quality of the social-life-world under construction. It had exactly the same standing as other ideologies which shape other social paradigms; Catholicism, capitalism or feudalism.

George Wallace, Winthrop Rockefeller, William Scranton, Goodwin Knight are among those who use P.R. firm of Hal Ervy in Los Angeles. But Ronald Reagan is the acknowledged genius of packaged political culture. In a typical instance, a P. R. firm will design the advertising theme of a campaign, arrange for the publicity, write, direct and produce television commercials, and stage special events as well as special effects. The political process is not a joint, interactive product of a candidate and an active public. There is a division of labor in which P. R. firms control the production of meaning, candidates are reduced to actors, and the public reduced to an audience. A reification process requires that a wide range of social acts be defined as "really" of the kind predicted by prophecy in question.

The second phase in the self-fulfilling prophecy is one of reification: a process by which the prophecy of a social fact becomes real. All social categories are in the first instance epistemological categories (ideas). Categories of social "facts" are created by the act of intending, believing and "knowing" persons. Epistemological categories become ontological categories (real things) to the degree they are treated as real and only as long as they are so treated. The major social device used in the reification process is authority: political, religious, and more recently, scientific authority. Those with high status, formal authority or social power certify that the occasion at hand is 'really' a legitimate instance of its kind. Faith, hope, trust, belief, and innocence are necessary for reification to occur.

The possibilities for fraud abound at the process of reification. Those in authority can "count" what transpires as really "justice," as really "honest service," as really "education" or whatever social fact is under reification. If judges are corrupt, if politicians are venal, if teachers are incompetent, if parents are indifferent, the social process fails. The social process also fails when skilled dramatists, respected athletes, gifted musicians or ingenious technicians hire out to create the image and the impression of reality.

Editing Out
At the micro-level of face to face interaction, certain unit acts are defined as "real" while some are not. The editing of certain acts: belching, burping, yawning, and coughing as "not really there" requires little effort after a bit of socialization to 'excuse' them. Such 'editing out' effectively sustains a given social paradigm. The rewriting of the meaning of a given verbal or physical act as "really" something else is commonplace in the history books; after years and centuries, what 'really' happened becomes increasingly believed even if fictive.

At the macro-level, an occasion can be artfully staged as being really there (The Tonkin Bay attack) or not really there (the Cambodian "incursion"). Medicines can be defined as "really" effective (and sometimes become so in the consequence). However, the practice of defining soft drinks, beers, whiskeys, automobiles, or other products as "really" status, love, masculinity, community mystifies those ideas by linking them to a process which is a commercial process rather than a social process. In this context, reification becomes a trap for the naive.

Transfer of Charisma
In order to facilitate the reification process, the esteem in which famous persons are held or the social honor accorded social positions is purchased by an advertising firm and sold to a third party to endorse whatever image the third party sells as true, correct, believable, valid, or warrantable. 0. J. Simpson, Alex Karras, Pele, Jack Benny, Henry Fonda, Bette Davis, and Bob Hope all cash in on the personal esteem in which they are held in order to advance the process by which trust, belief, and faith creates social "facts."

Muhammad Ali sold his prestige to Vitalis, Bill Russell to A.T.&T., Joe Frazier to Personna, Alex Karras Sunbeam, Don Meredith to Lipton Tea, Yogi Berra to New Country Yogurt, Oscar Robertson to Home Federal Savings and Loan, Artis Gilmore to GAF corporation and Pele to Pepsi Cola.

Sometimes faith, hope, trust and belief are used directly to reify the truth value of a social claim. Coca Cola sells the "real thing," one can "trust" Texaco and United airlines uses the slogan "You Gotta Believe." Good Housekeeping, a magazine regularly advertises its own "believability" in Advertising Age. "Belief Dynamics" is a formal theoretical strategy developed by the PR firm of D'Arcy, MacManus and Manus. It has a series of propositions which are applied and sold to various customers. Belief itself is a commodity purchased by Budweiser, Southwestern Bell, Michelob, the city of St. Louis and 81 other accounts.

Some advertising agencies use God and other elements from the world of religion to package trust, faith, hope and belief. Playboy Magazine ran an ad which said, "I read Playboy and found God." Machine Design magazine gives God credit for one of its products. Life Magazine guaranteed to deliver Christmas, 1972 better than its competitors. One religious college advertised, "Do a Wheelie for Jesus," and Fairchild Corporation invoked the name of God in one of its ads. The Weller agency showed God as a woman in order to sell sportswear. BASF ran an ad using nuns as endorsers for its computer tapes. The Encyclopedia Britannica also used the structure of the religious experience in its million dollar ad campaign in 1973 showing its books as if they were holy writ. And Reverend Ike is one of the many who sell a blend of God and free enterprise for a fee. It is very profitable to use the structure of religion to gain belief and trust while appropriating the surplus value of labor.

The process of believing events to be real is, ultimately, indispensable to the construction of society and should not be used for commercial purposes. The result of such a fraudulent use of the reality process is the cynical distrust of any artfully staged definition of a social paradigm as real. The loss of legitimacy accruing to the family, the church, the school and the marketplace is serious indeed. The human response to a fraudulently constructed social life world is not always syntaxic: employees steal, students cheat, voters stay home, debtors skip, and children run away. And, sometimes, people withdraw the legitimacy assigned to such fraudulent reifications. The role of the critical dramaturgical analyst in investigating this subprocess in the major domains of human life is to report on the degree to which such "definitions of reality" are linked to distinctly human needs and purposes; to ascertain whether the practice of treating social events as real is justified by the technical and social merits of the event concerned; in a word, to provide the means by which the reification process creates a social life world or tends to destroy one.

Force v. Fraud
At the trial of the Chicago Seven, Judge Hoffman tried to define what transpired as a "courtroom" definition of the situation while Abbie Hoffman tried to define what happened as a dramaturgical facsimile of a "courtroom." In the final analysis only the use of a technology of coercion: the police, decided whether the reification process succeeded or not. Since "authority" itself is an epistemological category temporarily reified in the person of an office holder, without coercion as a back up, the legitimacy of authority is at best tenuous unless the behavioral events counted as "really" of a sort compatible to the prophecy are, in fact, compatible to publicly established standards.

While such artful reification, given life and credibility by skilled actors, by professional writers, expert cinematography and by good musicians solves the problem of generating a public for a product or a politician from mass society, the practice also mystifies since the ideas and reality coefficients were constructed outside the public sphere and broadcast via mass media without participation by individuals behaving as if things pronounced as real, would in fact become real in the consequent. In the division of labor of reality creation, the actors, musicians, writers and editors who reify have no direct influence on the performance which might authenticate that reification. The test of all reality creating processes is to be found in the deed.

Prophecy and Performance:
Things prophesied and treated as real do not automatically become real in the consequence. Performances must be embodied; performances must match prophecy else the prophecy fails. 14 In ordinary social paradigms, there are publicly known and objective standards of performance by which to gauge mismatch. In some domains of social life, the standards are so esoteric that the general public can be deceived. For new products, for complex organizations, as with most "professions," the standards of competent performance are not easily ascertained.

This circumstance permits the artful staging of the facsimile of excellence, of value, of efficacy. Doctors, lawyers, and professors can evoke the impression of competence since their work is not easily evaluated. Organizations can hire public relations persons, economists, psychologists and sociologists to gauge the degree to which a public will accept the illusion of performance in lieu of authentic performance. The profit motive is satisfied as much by skillfully staged facsimiles of excellence using the structure of friendship, or family or the structure of science to generate a market as by retooling production routines or by supporting research and development--both very costly.

Some forms of social life and social endeavor have no objective, external, or publicly known standards against which to measure fraud. It is in the act of believing and trusting that a given social form is warranted. There are no external standards for religious beliefs nor for the aesthetic experience generally. In the act of believing comes the joy, the awe, the enlivening rush to join in community, in friendship, in love, or in worship with others who also believe. Still this realm of human activity can be used in cynical exploitation of the reification process. Community, friendship and love can be turned to private, individual ends which drains the joy, the wonder, and the ineffable good spirits from life itself. In this domain, only subjective tests are appropriate.

For the greater share of social life, there are intersubjective criteria which stand as test against which fraud is measured. For a part of social life there are external, nonsubjective and non-intersubjective criteria with which to gauge match. When two persons reach understanding, only those two know whether a given act is warranted. In "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff," Burton and Taylor had an intersubjective social life world which Burton betrayed to their guests. There is only one judge of such reifications and defections from them. If the intersubjective understanding is shared by a collective, it is the collective which must judge default. If the social paradigm which underwrites that intersubjective understanding is flawed, the public discourse must occur in order for publicly understood transformations to occur.

In a society in which the dramatization of life is routinely produced as a commodity, a Gestalt, a world view develops in which it seems reasonable to partake of private enterprise in face to face presentments. It was this subjective domain which Goffman explored and relentlessly exposed to critical analysis. What is of concern to the human condition is that the full range of exploitative dramaturgy be explored and the immense capacity of an advertising cadre to merchandize reality be subjected to critical scrutiny.

The relevant form of social research by which performance is evaluated is that of jurisprudence. Critical departure from publicly known standards must be judged by knowledgeable insiders provided with the social facts and must place around those involved in a frame in which the meaning of their actions may be understood. That frame is determined by the social paradigm at hand. More particularly, judgment must be made on the basis of the prophecy explicitly or implicitly given.

Many persons caught up in such an evaluative process know, with some warrant, that they have been "framed" in that the explicit prophecy varied from the implicit prophecy such that they were held accountable to the former while others were held accountable by the latter. 15 Any society in which there is such contradiction in the prophecy phase invites problems of jurisprudence in the performance phase. In a stratified society, law becomes a political tool for the powerful to use against customers, competitors, the public interest.

We may see the play of power in the Watergate Affair. In that affair, Mr. Nixon used the considerable social power of his office to help stage a convincing impression of honest investigation of the Watergate burglary and the part the Committee to Re-elect the President [CREEP] played in it. His used his authority to instruct others, especially Mr. Dean, to take this or that role in the dramatization of honest agency. The F.B.I., the C.I.A., and other public agencies, in turn, colluded with Mr. Dean and other White House staff to distance the President from the scandal. Much was at stake in this drama; the outcome of the election and the future of Mr. Nixon, who with Henry Kissinger, was putting together a global policy to protect the interests of American corporations in an increasingly competitive world. Part of that strategy entailed rapproachment with the USSR and Communist China in order to open up markets for American business and to protect jobs of American workers. Part of it was the quest for peace in the Mid-East where large oil reserves were essential to an oil-based industry in Europe, Japan and the USA. Many who colluded with the White House knew this and knew how other presidents had used power to gain and keep office...they were thus acting out of a much larger sociology of fraud than merely a cover-up of a burglary.

A critical dramaturgical analysis instructs us to examine the degree to which a given set of units acts are, intersubjectively, compatible with a given social prophecy. Many acts on the part of Mr. Nixon and his staff were not; such analysis enables us to make the scientific judgment that Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Nixon were skilled practitioners of the sociology of fraud. This statement is a scientific statement of fact that is at once objective, unbiased and value full. It is objective in that another analyst, using the same data and the same research approach would come up with the same conclusion. It is unbiased in that the social paradigm against which the behavior of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Halderman is tested is the same social paradigm pronounced by these two and intersubjectively understood by their audience to be the relevant paradigm against which their behavior is to be tested for congruence to the central prophecy of the paradigm. It is value full in that such a scientific statement permits affirmation, modification, or destruction of historically situated and socially relevant paradigms of social action in the event they are fraudulent. This research capacity serves the emancipatory interest in change and renewal.

Substantive Rationality of Dramaturgical Presentments:
Understanding the fourth aspect of the process of constructing social reality requires that the theorist change levels of analysis. Since the point of human interaction is to generate a distinctly emergent level of social reality; in the final analysis, one must reflect upon the degree to which reality qua social reality, emerges. The test of the facticity of a social life world is always, in positive terms, the solidarity of social relationships. To the extent we accord social standing to each other as "really" a brother, a friend, a fellow human being, to that extent is the social paradigm likely to be substantively rational.

The point emphasized here is that the technology of theatre could be used to augment the capacity of individuals to construct a social-life world anchored in human interests. Elements from theatre could be used to advance prophecies of honorific social status, of educational experience, of romance or of therapy. Music, actors, roles, rehearsals, costumes, stagings, audiences, scripts, stage managers, and other elements from the world of theatre need not be employed in the sociology of fraud. As long as dramaturgical presentments are used to construct publicly established and publicly visible social paradigms and, as long as the services and goods produced by these paradigms serve human interests, the technology of theatre can add, rather than detract from, the fullness of human life.

A social paradigm is substantively rational when it is oriented to the formation of communities and implementation of shared cultural values. A surgical team, a work team, a classroom, a couple on a date, a town meeting, or an entire society share value orientations to a social paradigm. When one goes to a party or to church, or to a ball game or to a union or political meeting, one expects that active participants give implicit allegiance to the values at hand. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the impression of authentic, naive participation is given off by one or more of the parties responsible for the construction of a particular kind of social reality. When that occurs, a form of conflict exists. At the microlevel, a union spy vigorously urging violence or easy terms in collective bargaining; a seducer posing as a suitor, an insurance salesman insinuating himself in the good graces of his fellow parishioners, or a careerist sacrificing his public charge in a bureaucracy to cultivate the sponsorship of his superiors: these do not begin to exhaust the list of those who employ dramaturgy for quite private purposes--the very fact of such simulation of compliance, cooperation and accord on values permits the analyst to infer conflict in a given social paradigm. Community does not emerge in such a situation.

At the macro-level of sociological analysis, one can gauge the facticity of a society by degree to which the capacity of individuals to participate in the construction of social forms is augmented; when the capacity of individuals to create culture increases; or when the basic social necessities are adequately distributed. This test is relevant whether one is evaluating face-to-face relations, group to group relations or international relations.

For a given social paradigm as a whole, there are "objective" standards which can be used to gauge its emergent facticity. Crime rates, desertion rates, drop-out rates, child morbidity and mortality rates, suicide rates, absentee rates, and the incidence of political dissent are fairly direct tests of the varying efficacy of the reality process. Capitalist, socialist and communist societies can be compared by such transcendent standards. Indirectly, the presence of underground structures, police force, and custodial cadres attest to a poorly designed officially given social paradigm.

As the surplus population grows in capitalist societies, as the indicators of a poorly organized society fall, as the political legitimacy of a society fails, the capacity to control the means by which social reality is produced is put to the task of legitimating capitalism itself. 16 Exxon, which spent $32 million in 1976 for advertising "energy for a strong America." A.T.&T. spent $112.8 million for advertising while it proclaimed that "the system is the solution." Textron corporation which owns Homelite saws advertises that it helps "build a better America." The U.S. Government is the 17th largest advertiser spending 113 million in 1976 to celebrate itself. Coca Cola peddles reality itself in the $91.3 million it spent on advertising in 1976.

Such a capacity to employ artisans from the world of make-believe and just-pretend; such economic power to purchase 20% of commercial television time, to purchase 50% of newspaper space, to purchase 60% of magazine space, to finance the political process through political contributions; such a cadre of advertising and public relations specialists to orchestrate the dramaturgical impression of a rational and decent society must give one pause.

A political coup of an entirely new character is thus possible and, perhaps, in process. For those of us who think of political change in terms of armies, control of the state apparatus, and the proclamation of new directives we have not the concepts with which to recognize the new, polite, delightful form of domination encompassed in the concept of a dramaturgical society in which the division of labor in the construction of social reality preempts that process to the goals of growth, profit and control of the masses. Thus, social reality itself becomes make believe.

The use of coercion, terror, or physical violence destroys the social character of a social paradigm by a unilateral imposition of a given definition of the situation. In the use of direct force, the prophecy of a social paradigm is not shared in any human sense of the notion of sharing. Prisons, concentration camps, asylums, and "schools" are defined as such and the definition unilaterally enforced by technologies of coercion; police, occupation armies, chemotherapy, behavior modification, and by courts. Yet the direct use of force is somehow less dishonest than is recourse to a dramaturgically staged sociology of fraud.

The same is true of stage, cinema, games and sports. There is an open understanding that these events are on the far side of the line between make-believe, just-pretend and what-if and that seriously intended world of 'the real world.' The thing about plays and games is that they have no consequence beyond the event. One does not take movie actresses as if they were 'really' murderesses; one does not take money from friends outside a poker game; one does not take a base-ball players strike as seriously as one takes a strike of teachers, police or doctors. Those who dwell in the land of make believe do not reach over into the land of reality; they do not step out of the screen and touch one. Electronic ministers do not prayer for a given living viewer of a Sunday morning. This is make-believe and known to be make believe.

When the artful contrivance of images become a major industry, then one has grounds to question the placement of that mid-line and to enquire into its boundaries. That is the task of the phenomenologist, ethnomethodologist, symbolic interactionist, or the socio-linguist who wishes to contribute to emancipatory knowledge.


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Young, T. R. 1990 "Backstage at the Whitehouse." In The Drama of Social Life. New Brunswick: Transaction Books.


A study of the largest corporations reveals that huge amounts are spent for a dramaturgic capacity. In 1977, such corporations as Proctor and Gamble spent $445 million on advertising; G.M. $287 million; Mobil, $146.5 million; the U.S. government, $113 million; Pepsi, $95 million; Kraft, $82.8 million; J.C. Penney, $81.6 million; Seagrams, $66 million; Smith Kline, $51.6 million; Schlitz, $51 million and Wrigley's, $32.5 million (Advertising Age, August 29, 1977). In addition to advertising, American corporations spent many more millions on public relations, upon charities, and upon political campaigns in order to control the process by which their images and public meaning is made. A major theme in recent advertising and public relations is the social utility of the capitalist paradigm. Many ads sell the dramaturgical facsimile of the good life rather than the technical merits of given products. Return

An affirmative postmodern sociology is possible in which the various tools of the knowledge process are put to use in the building of a praxis society. Other papers in the Red Feather Series offer versions of emancipatory methodology and are available through the Red Feather Institute Archives on the Progressive Scholars Network at the University of Boulder. Return
Epistemological break is a concept introduced by Bachelard in his La Formation de L'esprit Scientifique. It describes a leap from the prescientific world of ideas to the scientific world. Althusser (q.v.) applies it to Marx's rejection of Hegelian and Feuerbachian ideology. Here the concept points to the break necessary with earlier theorists (Mead, Cooley, Blumer, et al.) about how social reality is constructed. Return
The purchase of commodity reality in the social sphere is not the only tactic used to achieve legitimacy. The welfare state, political repression, and a heavy police capacity are major instruments in solving legitimacy problems in putative democracies. In Legitimation Crisis (1975), Habermas offers the thesis that social science contributes to legitimacy by an epistemological coup in which the only acceptable truth is technical rather than moral or normative truth. Return
The use of reification here is different from its use in much marxist literature. The view here is that reification is a necessary feature of the process of producing social reality. It is only when those social forms are reified beyond the control of those who must suffer them that domination ensues. Return
Advertising Age, 18 July, 1977, p. 31. Return
Advertising Age, 2 July, 1973. Sid Bernstein column. Return
Advertising Age, 25 February 1974, pp. 26-38. Return
Advertising Age, 25 March 1974, pp. 34-44. Return
Advertising Age, 18 July, 1977, p. 31. Return
See Ivan Svitak, Film in a Manipulated World, Chico State University, 1977, p. et passim. Return
These examples were taken from various issues of Advertising Age. See Eirinberg, A. B., "Public Affairs," 31 May, 1976, for a more complete picture. Return
There are, of course, political dimensions to every process of evaluating actions against ideas. In courts of law, there are skillful efforts to define an act as compatible with two alternative frames of meaning. In everyday life, there is considerable latitude for defining a given run of behavior as "really" this or that definition of the situation. As long as the political character of such problematics are known to all parties, there is no fraud involved. Thus an open trial is not fraudulent but a rigged trial is. Return
Since writing this in the early 70's, the new science of Chaos and Complexity has developed. In it, realities are always fractal. This makes the job of evaluating the reality process much more difficult. If I were writing this article today, I would talk of fractal facticity and of fractal truth values. The idea of an 'outcome' basin does offer a region in an outcome field with which to gauge those fractal realities. This idea is discussed in my newer work on Chaos and Postmodern Philosophy of Science of which there are several articles available in the literature but not listed here. Return
Prisoners often complain that they have been 'framed' since they know that others have done self-similar things and have not been adjudicated as 'guilty.' White collar criminals exculpate themselves when they steal from the corporation since they understand that their fraudulent enactment of an 'honest' employee is vitiated by the larger criminality engineered by the corporation itself. Return
These indicators are often interpreted by apologists of capitalism to give the impression that they reflect poorly designed self systems rather than poorly designed social systems. Thus the Advertising Council is sponsoring a series of ads on television which artfully conveys the impression that Chicanos are unemployed because they don't speak good English or that Blacks are walking the streets because they didn't get a good education. Return

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