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Sociology Definitions of the Week: Backstage and Frontstage

By October 12, 2011

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In Erving Goffman's Dramaturgical Perspective on Social Interaction, frontstage and backstage are concepts used to describe the relationship between the roles actors play at a given moment and the various audiences these roles involve. When we perform a role in relation to an audience (society), that role is on frontstage and our performance (behavior) is open to judgment by those who observe it. The backstage region is a place where the actors can discuss, polish, or refine their performance without revealing themselves to their audience. It also allows them to express aspects of themselves that their audience would find unacceptable. Read more about the dramaturgical approach, backstage and front stage, and how social life is like a theater performance.

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