Culture as Drama I Cover Image

Kultuur kui draama I
Culture as Drama I

Author(s): Ester Võsu
Subject(s): Semiotics / Semiology
Published by: Eesti Semiootika Selts
Keywords: Keywords: drama; analogy; social sciences; Victor Turner; social drama; Erving Goffman; dramaturgic school; social roles.

Summary/Abstract: The metaphorical comparison of drama (play) with life (socio-cultural phenomena) has been popular in the tradition of Western thinking, being part of the wider idea of theatrum mundi. The heuristic potential of drama as a “root metaphor” has likewise proven attractive for many social scientists during the second half of the 20th century. The first part of the paper focuses on an analysis of the terminological field of drama, by providing a critical-comparative analysis of the approaches in the theory of theatre and social sciences since the middle of the past century. The aim of this review is to demonstrate the genesis and variety of drama as an analogy among different disciplines, traditions and authors in social sciences. The second part of the paper focuses on an in-depth analysis of the two major, distinct traditions that apply the drama analogy. The first, cultural anthropology, regards “social drama” (Victor Turner) as a model for studying extraordinary, special events in cultural life, connecting drama with rituals, traditions, liminal phases, conflicts and crises. Here the emphasis is on dramatic, exceptional experiences, where the scenarios “written” in the collective consciousness are outlined as if they are forces of tragedy, functioning above the individuals and thus destining their behaviour. The second tradition comes from sociology and it does not propose a concrete model but rather a dramaturgic perspective (Erving Goffman) for interpreting social interaction between people. Performing social roles in everyday life is treated as an act of self-dramaturgy, where mutual influences between social actors are of utmost importance. Drama therefore becomes a cognitive strategy that supports us in everyday social situations, helping us to understand the others and likewise contributing to the formation of the self, which consists of diverse social roles.

  • Issue Year: 2007
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 195-224
  • Page Count: 30
  • Language: Estonian