face-workthe sequence of interaction in which a potential or actual ‘loss of face’ is dealt with by those involved in interaction. For GOFFMAN, such sequences are sufficiently standardized to be regarded as ‘ritual’, e.g. a ‘transgression’ is noted; the ‘transgressor’ acknowledges this (e.g. ‘silly me’); this recognition is accepted by other parties to the interaction; the offender registers his gratitude for this. In Goffman's work and in related forms of sociology such as ETHNOMETHODOLOGY, the existence of such relatively standardized sequences are seen as a central element in the everyday social order.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000