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Record Type: Review   ID: 576

The Drama of Social Life: Essays in Post-Modern Social Psychology

Young, T.R.

 Sociologist T.R. Young opens this book with an excellent introduction in which he defines premodernism, modernism, and postmodernism. He then gives the aim of this book: "To carry the postmodern critique into the realm of dramaturgy, into just-pretend and never-was . . . . I want to join with Blake and Arnold to advance a different fate for desire and for poetic genius than singing commercials for soap, beer, or packaged political candidates. I want to amplify, in the mind of the reader, the vast potential of magic and make-believe for authentically human endeavor--in religion, sports, politics, and even in economics" (p. 9). Dramaturgy is described by Young as "one of the more useful frameworks with which to comprehend, describe, communicate, and transform the character and processes of social life . . . [it is] the analytic perspective that social life resembles the theater or, more accurately, drama" (p. 10). He combines dramaturgy and critical theory into what he calls "critical dramaturgy," which "not only describes and analyzes the alienated relations that produce alienated social dramas, but also speaks to change them to forms more responsive to human rationality, human rights, and human potential. The political task of critical dramaturgy is to expedite the replacement of the fraudulent, conniving, exploitive, privatized dramaturgy so ably described by Goffman by an enlivening, caring, entrancing, and redeeming dramaturgy" (pp. 14-15). In a later generation, it is possible that critical dramaturgy or variations of it will be useful to those who want to understand exceptional human experiences. As a tool it may not only be useful in understanding what a given experience means, but it may be invaluable in creating the conditions under which EHEs are likely to occur.
Publisher Information:New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990. 367p. Bibl: 357-363; Index: 365-367; 1 table
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