Wedding videos and social interaction

The sociologist Erving Goffman first proposed using the theater as an analogy to explore human interaction in 1959. His “dramaturgical” analysis has been applied to studies of the work place, prisons, schools and churches. It has proved to be a rich framework for studying politics.

Goffman applied the structure and terminology of the theater to “face-to-face” interactions, each interaction “roughly defined as the reciprocal influence of individuals upon one another’s actions when in one another’s immediate physical presence” (Goffman, 1959, p. 26). Much has changed since 1959 in the way we interact with one another, most notably in how social media has become an important, if not a primary, means of personal interaction for millions of people.

This video Is derived from a study that explores one particular niche of social media, the video sites of YouTube and Vimeo, and one particular type of personal expression, the wedding video. These video represent a shift in how many of us express marriage, one of the most intimate and sacred life events.

Today’s wedding videos demonstrate how the theater, or more broadly, the world of entertainment, has become a template for behavior, not just a useful analogy, as Goffman proposed. Beyond that, personal interaction through social media is calculated not just to mimic theater but also to be theater — to entertain. The ceremony, of the traditional wedding has been sublimated to producing a theatrical video that will impress others with the couple’s creativity, talent and “hipness.”