Honors College Thesis


Social bonding : connections between the work of Erving Goffman and chemistry as models for social understanding Public Deposited

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  • To understand human social environments and interaction, it is often necessary to examine them in creative and metaphorical terms. In this thesis, a model of chemical interaction, atomic and molecular bonding, and the role of electrons, nuclei, and other chemical principles are used to describe the social environment of human interaction. Simultaneously, a comparison is made between this modern chemical model and the classical model of theatrical performances in Erving Goffman’s book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, a successful and trusted part of the sociological understanding of today. This sociochemical comparison of the chemical model to social interaction showed interesting strengths and weaknesses. While the theatrical model is robust in analyzing the social realm in which humans find themselves, it may not have accounted for aspects of a core self that the chemical model was capable of showing. However, the chemical model suffers from the lack of free will and agency that humans can employ and atoms, functioning on natural laws, cannot. Thus, in understanding each model’s strengths and weaknesses the validity of each model is demonstrated and there is a greater total contribution to the understanding of human social interaction.
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