Enactment or Performance? A Non-dualist Reading of Goffman

Publication Type:

IFIP Paper


Beyond Interpretivism? New Encounters with Technology and Organization, Springer International Publishing, Cham, p.167–181 (2016)




This paper contributes to the sociomateriality research orientation with a critical examination of two concepts – enactment and performance – that have been associated with the notion of performativity. While a preference for the term enactment has been expressed in influential IS literature, we argue that sociomateriality will benefit from an engagement with the body of research that focuses on Goffman's notion of performance. We provide a critique of Mol's reading of Goffman's notions of ``persona'' and ``mask''. We then show how a careful non-dualist reading of his work reveals his opus as relevant and useful for sociomateriality, because his notion of performance affords locating technology in differing roles within a performance. In doing so, we argue that Goffman's work, largely overlooked within this stream of research so far, contributes important concepts and terminology for making sociomateriality actionable for IS.