Interaction without walls: Analysing leadership discourse through dramaturgy and participation

Nick Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Goffman's dramaturgical model of interaction is often used to examine how communicative events are framed differently in public and private settings. However, this idea has restrictively been conflated with specific spatial locations. This paper contends that it is not the place where discourse is performed that styles it as front or backstage, but rather the stances taken in interactions, and the participation framework involved. Furthermore, backstage can be used to negotiate stances later performed frontstage, where they may index wider, ideological aspects of identity. This is demonstrated through the analysis of a sequence of linked backstage and frontstage interactions that involve two rugby coaches. The extracts presented and analysed take place in a New Zealand rugby team, a type of organisation in which space is particularly fluid. The dramaturgical model is demonstrated to be of use in examining leadership discourse within organisations, particularly in organisations in which multiple leaders exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-199
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Backstage
  • Discourse analysis
  • Ethnography
  • Leadership
  • Rugby
  • Stance


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