Facework During a Live Newscast Blunder
Tags: goffman, theory, dramaturgy, facework, impression management, performance, self-presentation, social interaction, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: The intended content from this BBC video is not nearly as interesting as the social interaction that takes place during the segment. The anchor and the audience believed the interviewee was Guy Kewney, the editor of a technology website News Wireless; however, due to a mix up back stage, a man named Guy Goma was rushed onto the set for the interview (Goma was in fact in the BBC studios awaiting an interview with the accounting department). The video shows Goma's look of surprise when he realizes he is not the person that is supposed to be interviewed. The clip addresses several features of Goffman’s (1973) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life with a focus on impression management. During this formal television interview, Goffman’s notion of the ‘front’ is seen here as ‘institutionalised’ and with ‘stereotyped expectations’ (Goffman 1973). In this 'scene,' the anchor and interviewee face each other to ensure they are seen as engaging with each other, but also in order to present themselves to the television audience. The backdrop features several computers and people working to put forward an image of the busy newsroom. Goffman would refer to Goma's shocked facial expression as an example of being ‘out of face.’ Goma does not know how to act, given that he does not have the appropriate knowledge and is not the person he is taken to be; however, to prevent disruption during this live broadcast, the respondent and anchor ‘maintain face,’ by attempting to carry on with their respective roles as interviewer and interviewee, as if nothing disruptive has happened (Goffman 1967). The rest of the interview illustrates what Goffman refers to as ‘the arts of impression management,’ (Goffman 1973) where both the anchor and interviewee take on ‘dramaturgical loyalty.’ They take it as their ‘moral obligation’ to continue in a formal manner. They can both be described as deploying ‘dramaturgical discipline’ by ‘maintaining face’ and managing their ‘fronts,’ so that they are both seen to be as professional characters their audience expects them to be.
Submitted By: Jessica Lee and Michelle MacDonagh
10/3/2012 11:57:58 pm
This is a great post - a really clear illustration of Goffman's point - thank you!
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