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Controlling The Conduct Of Others Essay


According to Goffman, in his 1959 article on presentation of self in everyday life, he argues that the first impression is very essential in determining the subsequent relationship between interacting parties.

He gives an example of a waitress and explains how the waitress serves a customer on the first instant the customer takes a seat.

The waitress will be gentle, yet firm on the customer with the aim of giving him an impression of a self esteemed person that is not doing her job out of desperation but rather because she takes pride in it and understands what it really entails.

Goffman illustrates this using an example of a waitress who politely excuses herself to change a customer’s cover. The words she uses are very polite, but the act of pulling off the cover as she excuses herself indicates two contradictory conducts.

The result is that the waitress creates a notion in the mind of the client. This impression serves to control the conduct of the customer in the transaction relationship (Goffman, 1959).

The major reason why Goffman says that human beings tend to control the conduct of others is because when two parties meet for the first time, the party that is more conversant with the environment in which they meet tends to control the manner in which the guest party acts.

The hosting party may want to do this for various reasons depending on the setting. Whichever the setting, however, the fundamental fact is that one party influences the conduct of others through the first impression (Goffman, 1959).

The party usually does this in order to gain from the relationship between the two or to get the other parties moving in his or her direction.

Goffman says that in the case of the waitress, virtually all their actions and conducts are aimed at determining the tipping relationship between herself and the client.

The role of a cheerleader has been highlighted as one that makes the performer influence the conduct of other spectators. Typically, the cheerleading squad in middle schools and colleges are girls.

The role played by the ladies, according to Bettis and Adams in their 2003 article, has been viewed as degrading to the womenfolk that engage in athletic cheerleading. Traditionally, the ladies that acted as cheerleaders were perceived as being used as objects to attract attention.

The contemporary psychologists and sociologists have come to redefine the role of a cheerleader. Research carried out in the American colleges established that the colleges indicated that the cheerleaders were actually leaders and opinion makers in the schools (Bettis & Adams, 2003).

It was established that the cheerleader had a lot of social influence on the community in which she operated following her involvement in the cheerleading activities.

The fact that she moved crowds during her cheerleading duties created an impression that she had the capacity to determine the conduct of everyone around her. The contemporary social scientist, defines a cheerleader as a person that acts in a particular way to control the behavior of those in the sporting environment (Bettis & Adams, 2003).

According to Bettis and Adams, choosing female cheerleaders has been seen as a way of employing the power of a woman in controlling the masses. The two scholars explain that the cheerleader employs female sexuality in trying to influence the conduct of others.

Female sexuality and feminine tendencies naturally tend to influence the conduct of the male species which accounts for almost eighty percent of the sports fan base.

One article that has gone an extra mile in explaining the manner in which a waitress controls the conduct of customers in the restaurant is the 1991 article done by Foff Paules titled Getting And Making A Tip.

Paules’ study of the conduct of waiters in the Route Restaurant in New Jersey indicated that understanding the customer was the first step towards learning how to control the tipping relationship between the customer and the employees.

The waiters at the restaurant referred to the tipping customers as tips and labeled the ones that did not give anything as stiff.

The research by Paules indicated that the waiters did not see the customers as masters that deserved to be appeased but rather like materials that needed to be processed with the end product being the tips in form of cash and checks.

In the interviews, the waiters did not use the word get when referring to obtaining tips from the customers. They instead used the word made. This means that they must have acted in some manner that compelled the customer to ‘tip them’ (Paules, 1991).

The waiters develop a tendency of welcoming the customers that give generous tips to their stations. The act by one waiter known a Nera towards the end of this article indicates that waiters are not ready to bring out a picture of neediness or desperation.

This is evidenced by the manner in which one of them reacts negatively to one customer that harasses her. This shows that the waiters are not servants who do not have personal liberty.

They are human beings that have self esteem and only act submissively like they do in order to get something out of the client.


Bettis, P & Adams, N. (2003). Commanding The Room In Short Skirts: Cheerleading As The Embodiment If Ideal Girlhood. Gender and Society. New York. Sage Publications

Goffman, E. (1959). Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York. Doubleday & Company, Inc

Paules F. G (1991). Getting And Making A Tip From Dishing It Out: Power And Resistance Among Waitresses In A New Jersey Restaurant. New York. Temple University Press

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