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The theme of Performity Essay



Performity involves both performance and performativity. Performance is the manner of carrying out an activity or a piece of work. On the other hand, performativity is the process by which individuals construct their identity or position by expressing themselves actively. Erving Goffman was among the first thinkers in utilizing his dramatizing principles about the social.

He considers how individuals present themselves and their activities to others the way they guide and control the impression formed about them. These things they may or may not do while performing an act before others. He stipulates that two types of expressions are conscious and unconscious ones (Bell, 1999).


According to him this is performance. To describe performance, he for example; talks of interaction and the self. Judith Butler is one of the other sociologists who extended this interest in the development of the theme of performativity. She was a post-feminist who gave an influential analysis of sex, gender, sexuality and the body.

This was a major contribution to feminist gender theory and is regarded as providing a finding contribution to queer theory. Her approach involves the analysis of performative production of sexed identity on the processes through which gender and sex are portrayed as natural extensions of a body rather than, taking the biology of the body as a starting point (Duttlinger, Ruprecht, & Webber, 2003).

Erving Goffman in his conscious expression he says that this is what one gives of himself and the other unconscious expression is what one gives off. For example, there are expressions that one can control and others cannot be controlled. According to Goffman when people are interacting they form different expressions.

The audience has information about the performer which contradicts his intentional performance. In performing an activity, an individual act consists of many things. He talked of front which he defined as part of the performance of individual which more or less fixed (Parker, Sedgwick, & Institute, 1995). The acceptable parts of front are one’s appearance and environment.

Judith Butler links materialization of the body to the performativity of gender and assesses the materiality of gender, sex and body. For instance, she states that heterosexuality is as a result of imitation rather than a natural product of gendered and sexed bodies. According to her gender, involves sustained social performances where social meanings established are repeated.

She views gender, sexuality and sex as cultural products. For example it is not that gender and sex produce heterosexuality but that heterosexuality produces sex in a binary form.

In comparison, Gofffman describes psychoanalysis by stating that some actions are unconscious that cannot be controlled and others are conscious and can be controlled when one is performing a task. On the other hand Judith Butler talks of psychoanalysis by stating that identity involves numerous and coexisting identifications.

She also says that identification of gender is phantasm tic. According to Butler gender is constructed through a process of reiteration, selectivity is defined by what it is not and not what it is. On the other hand, Goffman states that the audience has all the information about the performer who creates meaning of the performed art.


In conclusion, Goffman describes performance in terms of interaction which is defined as activities of a given person which influences other people. He also talks about self image which is a product of scene that comes off and not the cause of it. Butler rejects that gender; masculinity and femininity are cultural articulation of biological sex. Also she states that subjectivity is rethought as a product of language. Moreover she considers that the route to change is through language agency is rethought in linguistic term.


Bell, V. (1999). Performativity and Belonging. New York: Sage Publications.

Duttlinger, C., Ruprecht, L., & Webber, A. (2003). Performance and Performativity in German Cultural Studies. Atlantic P. Lang.

Parker, A., Sedgwick, E. K., & Institute, E. (1995). Performativity and Performance. London: Routledge.

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