BASIC THESIS: Goffman’s theory of front stage and backstage is being blurred by technology, more specifically YouTube. Behaviors that Goffman saw as backstage are being moved to the front stage because of the availability of this new technology. People are posting videos of themselves on YouTube, behavior Goffman would consider backstage, to a very large audience. I will use Goffman’s theory of self presentation to examine a selection of these videos and critique them in terms of his theory to articulate this “blurring” of front stage – backstage behavior. This is useful because it provides a new interpretation of Goffman’s theory relating to YouTube technology and communication (posting) behavior.
I plan to start the paper by summarizing Goffman’s entire framework of self presentation. Second, I will look at other academic use of Goffman’s front stage – backstage theory and explain what they found (articles i have found include hospital setting, web pages, chat and bulletin board). Third, I will interpret a selection of videos (20 random videos) found by searching for “drinking and puking” utilizing Goffman’s front stage and backstage principles to describe what I see occurring in these videos. Lastly, I will summarize what I’ve found and (hopefully) make the claim that because of this new technological medium, I believe that Goffman’s rigid boundary of front stage – backstage is being blurred.
I think this is a good plan and I have a basic pre-writing outline to do this. I am wondering, though, if I should spend any time leading into Goffman by describing other theories??? I don’t think so for this paper, but I wanted your opinion. Obviously if I write this up and have only six pages, I might be more inclined to throw in some other theories relating to symbolic interaction… but I’d rather not.
Any comments on basic thesis and outline would be greatly appreciated. I will be writing the paper all day today and tomorrow with hope of setting it aside for the morning on Sunday and proofing it again Sunday afternoon. I had to start over because I was trying to be too scientific. I don’t think I’ve written a critical essay before (if so, it was 10+ years ago and I have no recollection of this)… so this is very new to me.
Good luck everyone.
I like your idea, it sounds like its going to be an interesting paper and its well thought out.
From what you described, I don’t believe there is really a need to go on about other related theories if you aren’t going to be critiquing them later in your paper. It seems that would only take attention away from your main focus. However, if you are worried about your paper running short, maybe you can add a paragraph near the end about the design implications of this line being blurred. This could include your opinions on whether this will affect movie directors in the future, guidelines people can follow for creating successful youtube videos, the way we watch films, etc.