An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, San Francisco, August 1989. We are indebted to Nicholas Babchuk, Jay Corzine, Bill Gamson, Tom Hood, Michael G. Lacy, Michelle Miller, Helen Moore, Dave Snow, Hugh Whitt, Mayer Zald and several anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and assistance with earlier drafts of this paper. Editor's note: The reviewers were John O. Hillebrand, Thomas C. Hood, and Diane Mitch-Bush.
Dramaturgy and Social Movements: The Social Construction and Communication of Power*
Article first published online: 9 JAN 2007
Volume 62, Issue 1, pages 36–55, January 1992
How to Cite
Benford, R. D. and Hunt, S. A. (1992), Dramaturgy and Social Movements: The Social Construction and Communication of Power. Sociological Inquiry, 62: 36–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.1992.tb00182.x
- Issue published online: 9 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 9 JAN 2007
This paper seeks to illuminate how social movements collectively construct and communicate power. Drawing on insights from dramaturgy as well as from field research of several movements, the article demonstrates how social movements are dramas routinely concerned with challenging or sustaining interpretations of power relations. Four dramatic techniques associated with such communicative processes are identified and elaborated: scripting, staging, performing and interpreting. It is suggested that movement outcomes hinge in part upon how well activists employ these techniques and manage various emergent contingencies and tensions. The paper concludes with a discussion of several sets of theoretical and empirical implications.