- 京都社会学年報 : KJS
- vol.9, pp.219-235, 2001-12-25
An individual sometimes recognizes embarrassment in everyday life. He tends to hate to be embarrassed. So he tends to avoid embarrassment. This "embarrassment avoidancers" image is one aspect of socialized man. But this aspect cannot fully cover the social meaning of "embarrassment". "Embarrassment" seems to have some crucial social meaning not only in avoidance but also in expression. This essay is to evaluate the social meaning of embarrassment from Goffman's point of view. Embarrassment can be recognized when something (or someone) is deviated from some rules. This essay is dealing with two contexts. First, it deals with the embarrassment when someone's act seems to be deviated from some ritual rules. Second, it deals with the embarrassment when incompatible principles seem to encounter in one place. In both cases, an individual tries to deal with emerged embarrassment. In the first case, he or others try to change the meanings of deviant act into the meanings that can be seen as acceptable. The main devices for remedial work are, for example, accounts, apologies, and requests. And in some cases, embarrassment is not an object of avoidance but one of expression. This seems to be one aspect of elasticity of social structure. In the second case, it is almost impossible to change principles in one situation. He tries to adjust oneself to reduce the seriousness of conflict by denying current reality. And to express embarrassment has some social function. To express embarrassment leaves the possibility that incompatible principles can maintain. So embarrassment has social function for elasticity of social structure. "Embarrassment" seems to tell us how we lead our lives in many incompatible social principles.