Chanel Prince, Jonathan Wynn

Festivalgoers as players. Group identity in Goffmanian games

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Goffman, games, fun, festival, moves, encounters, events

This essay briefly re-introduces the key concepts in Goffman’s «Fun in Games» (1961a) to explore how games occur in «fun» events like music festivals, specifically at the Afropunk Music Festival and Country Music Association’s CMA Fest. Our cases are places where identities – explicitly Blackness in one, and implicitly whiteness in the other – are on display, often at the exclusion of other social attributes, and, occasionally where breeches and «out of frame» activities receive a kind of «honorary inattention» or create interaction predicaments. Festivalgoers come to these events to express and affirm their identities while patrolling for, identifying, and minimally tolerating outsiders. Festival producers aim to maximize an event’s «euphoric function» – glitzy events to draw people in; food, booze, and crowd-pleasing music to keep them entertained – to keep disruptions at bay. We reflect upon data on how these two festivals differently shape identities and propose that participants interpret «out of frame» predicaments through four distinct moves: the Anticipation Move, Representation Move, Interpretation Move, and Comparison Move

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