Compare and Contrast Goffman’s and Foucault’s Explanations of How Social Order Is Made and Remade Essay example

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There are many theories regarding how social order is produced and reproduced , but this essay will focus on the similarities and differences between the two contrasting accounts of how social order is produced, provided by Goffman and Foucault. Social order is the term used to describe the unspoken rules of conduct in everyday life, or a stable social situation in which connections are maintained without change or if change occurs it is in a predictable way. (Taylor, 2009, p. 173) These differing views can be related to the governance of traffic presented in the case studies of the Buchanan report and Monderman’s thesis. This is a useful and relevant example which can be applied to the general theories which need covering first of all. …show more content…
This is good on how social order is made, but please go on to consider the issue of it being ‘remade’ and why it is necessary at all.

These differing views of social order point to the opposing ideas of the role of the individual within social order. Goffman, as already mentioned, sees the individual as central to social order. He thinks the individual is self-aware and actively participating in their role in society, while complying with the unspoken codes of behaviour people adjust their own behaviour to fit with each situation, and it is these interactions that establish social order. Foucault takes the opposite view saying that the individual is removed from the central stage and is not a coherent being that is self-aware and in control. Foucault sees the individual as ‘having little control over their destinies’ (Silva, 2009, p.321) He suggests that they think they are self-aware and actively participating, but in fact this is the illusion created by the discourse of individualism. Foucault asserts that individuals appear as passive, even docile, subjects who cooperate in their own subordination. (Silva, 2009, p. 322)

A further difference is the methods each used to study social order. Goffman used participant observation to gather his information. He participated in everyday situations, observing the social interactions to make sense of the invisible social order. He was not interested in social order from a historical viewpoint, instead