interaction, interaction ritual and interaction order

interaction, interaction ritual and interaction order

the processes and manner in which social actors relate to each other, especially in face-to-face ENCOUNTERS.

While patterns of interaction have long been studied by social scientists (e.g. small groups by social psychologists, or BODY LANGUAGE by psychologists), the fundamental, trans-situational structure of interaction was often considered only incidentally. It is only with the work of Goffman that these structures have begun to be more fully explored. GOFFMAN (1963) defines a ‘social order’ as the ‘consequences of any set of moral norms that regulates the way in which persons pursue their objectives’. Such moral norms are equivalent to the ‘traffic rules’ of social interaction. This ‘public order’, or interaction order, which governs the form and processes, though not the content, of social interaction, stands at the heart of Goffman's sociology (e.g. see CIVIL INATTENTION). What Goffman then means by interaction ritual is that a ritual cooperation exists, and ‘ritual codes’, in upholding the enactment of a shared reality e.g. in allowing the actors with whom one interacts to preserve face (see FACE-WORK).

As early as 1951, Gregory Bateson suggested the possibility that interaction might be seen as a communication system, with perhaps a SYNTAX. Goffman's work appears to build on these early notions (see Kendon, 1988).

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