This essay will compare and contrast two different social science views about the ordering of social life and show the similarities and differences between each theory. This essay will utilise the studies of social scientists Goffman and Foucault to explain this.
If society is to function properly then as human beings we need to behave and operate within societies acceptable values and norms. These social norms and values are a shared set of expectations that people do or should adhere to. When these rules are followed society runs and operates smoothly, these rules are imperceptible (Silva, 2009,p316) they are not written down like many other government or judicial rules but are learnt from an early age and followed by the population throughout their lives. Studies by social scientists have looked at how the population adhere and learn social norms and values. Goffman and Foucault theories regarding behaviour are that society is made up of fragments, which are ordered in different ways. Goffman believed that society comes together cooperatively, in competition or in conflict. Society is a large network of individuals and social order is the result of actions of the population, this is reproduced through repeated actions and practices. The actions are not always the same and social order changes as these practices and actions are built, rebuilt, worked and reworked. Goffman felt that our daily social interactions are set by boundaries through which our bodily gestures and facial expressions influence our everyday life and how we interact with those around us. An example of this (Silva, 2009, p317) could be two people encountering each other on a street, what results is that as you encounter other people you do not portray the same expressions as if you were meeting someone you know, these interactions are an invisible part of social order.
Goffmans studies have examined the functions and activities of everyday life and he believes that human interaction is the core of how we learn what is acceptable and what is not. From his work in hotels and restaurants Goffman used a metaphor of stage to demonstrate his point. He used waiters as an example and describes them as polite and courteous while performing their tasks and showing how capable and committed they are. They hold back any negative emotions but once they are out of sight of customers and with their friends they can relax and take on a different friendlier role. Goffman believes that society is made by the actions and the way people interact with each other. When we first meet someone, we like to make a good impression to others, it could be said that we are putting on a show. Sometimes there are always exceptions where the rules are not always followed and an example of this is the insurance claim report (Silva, 2009, pg307) where the behaviour of the passenger in the other car is portrayed in a threatening manor, this can be seen as putting on a show. All three people involved would be carrying out their parts and displaying their first impression. This is called ordering or classifying and places things and people into categories, which in turn allow us to read situations and to work out how best to deal with them. Goffman believes social order is built up from social interactions and is unconcerned with the historical processes that embed our social ordering. Goffman ideas are a set of propositions, he states that to understand society means understanding the way individual and joint actions are organised. As individuals we construct and communicate a sense of self in the course of interaction with other people. The way individuals present themselves is a collective affair where individuals display, and act in a way that is in accordance to their current situation. The pattern of behaviour demanding the presentation of the self pervades the whole social organization. Everyday