Compare and contrast two social science views about the ordering of social life.
For this assignment I will compare and contrast the two approaches to explaining social ordering of life by social scientist Erving Goffman and philosopher Michel Foucault who view orders in different ways. Goffman focusses on interactions between people, observing how people perform their social roles, producing social order via their actions and their ceremonial behaviours in everyday life. Foucault examined how social order is shaped and organised by authoritative knowledge, concentrating mainly on the relationship between power and knowledge and how they are used as a system of social control by social institutes and authorities. Initially I will look at their claims, concepts and evidences and later draw out the similarities and differences in order to compare and contrast their approaches. Social scientists are constantly exploring what makes and maintains social orders in the society. They investigate what can damage or disrupt it and enforce and restore it as well as how authoritative knowledge is used to govern societies. They are interested in both the explicit and implicit set of rules and expectations that organise social lives and enable people to live together (Bromley & Clarke, 2009, p.298). Rules are generally created and enforced for the wellbeing of the society as they provide a mundane sense of order in which the people living in a place are expected to behave in a particular manner that is accepted by the community. They each have a role to fulfil or a regulation to follow that produces a social order. This order can defer from place to place and from one time to another for example the interrelation of people and motor traffic has been ordered and reordered at different times (Bromley & Clarke, 2009, p.299). It is believed and understood to be the ‘norm’ when people behave in a manner that is expected of them or when they fulfil their social obligations, a social order is maintained but when these rules are broken and people ‘misbehave’ the social order is broken and chaos ensues making room for the authorities to take charge and enforce or restore order, for example the accident on Sycamore Avenue (Silva, 2009, pg.307). Sociologist, Erving Goffman looks at ‘interactional order’; he claims this is the order in everyday life among societies. He explores the questions about how people behave and what do they do when in company of others? What are the principles we follow when we randomly meet with strangers? How do people play their roles in society and how do they manage leaving impressions of their personalities on others? He questions the everyday life patterns and how the society comes about. He claims that society and its order is merely functioning and formed by people living their lives. And to understand the bigger picture of society, it is essential to look at everyday social behaviours of individuals and he pretty much simplifies the term ‘society’ by claiming that if a person gardens he’s a gardener or a singing man is a singer. He undertook detailed studies (1959,1971 and 1972) of people’s everyday behaviour in which he suggested that people behave in ways that tell others of their identities and personalities, it tells them who they are, what they are doing, what their expectations are and what they want in life (Taylor, 2009, pg. 172 & 173). He used the concept of ‘interactional order’ and drew on the metaphor of theatre to support as evidence, that people display and perform selves according to the requirement of the situation and their roles. “We are all actors, trying to give our best possible performance”. He participated in observing various social situations to comprehend the nature of people in a social state of affairs. An example of his study framework of this concept was the working establishments like the hotels and restaurants, where the waiters and staff put on a show when in working mode...
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