Compare and Contrast Two Views of How Social Order Is Produced in Public Spaces.

In this essay I will be defining social order, and looking at how it is produced in public spaces. I will begin by looking at two opposing views of social order by Goffman and Foucalt. Then I will examine Buchannan’s report and Monderman’s thesis, describing both views and their relation to Goffman and Foucault‘s, and then compare and contrast to find the similarities and differences.

Social order is the way that people imagine and practise their social existence. It is how individuals fit together in the world with other people and includes how they expect to interact. ‘Ordering is something intrinsic to social life and it is continuously practised.’ (Silva, 2009, p. 311)   There are different ways of viewing social order, and the two examples I will be looking at are the contrasting views of Goffman and Foucalt.

Erving Goffman places human interaction at the centre of his analysis, and suggests that social order is built up from social interactions. Within his studies he looks at the functions of rituals and orders in everyday life, and demonstrates the ways in which society is ordered through performances in certain contexts. This includes how people behave in the presence of others, and he views them as playing roles to manage the impressions they make on others. Within his studies in 1959, 1971 and 1972, he utilised the metaphor of the theatre, designating the front stage as the setting for the demands of interaction order, and the back stage as the place where people could let go of their performance (Silva, 2009, p.317) An example of this is the behaviour of restaurant waiters. On the ‘front stage’ with customers, they are courteous and respectful, projecting a capable and committed service with no negativity. On the ‘back stage’ in the kitchen, they transform into a more relaxed role, perhaps discussing customers unfavourably. Goffman believes that the rituals of trust and tact are carried out through control of bodily gesture, face and gaze along...