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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Maximizing, Moralizing, and Dramatizing

Maximizing, Moralizing, and Dramatizing

(p.573) 30 Maximizing, Moralizing, and Dramatizing
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes a “dramatistic,” “dramatic,” or “dramaturgical” approach to the study of social interaction. It asks whether the dramaturgical model insists on the theatricality of social life merely in the sense of insisting that people fill roles just as persons act parts in a play. This is the question of whether the crucial element in the dramaturgical picture is that cluster of insights that goes under the general heading of “role distance.” The chapter considers the peculiarities of rational explanation and about the role of reconstructions of “the thing to do” other than the role of explaining an action or series of actions by focusing on voting behavior in the terms proposed by Anthony Downs's An Economic Theory of Democracy. It also examines some recent accounts of the phenomenon of suicide, along with the rationality principle, which Karl Popper calls “false but indispensable” to the social sciences.

Keywords:   dramaturgical approach, social interaction, social life, roles, role distance, voting behavior, Anthony Downs, suicide, rationality principle

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