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Saving Face

Being taken seriously

If the land of confusion does exist, more likely than not it reserves a special place for the concept of serious. It’s common to hear people state their desire to be taken seriously – in life, in the workplace, in their social circles generally. It’s especially evident when people feel they are not being taken […]

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Knowing Your Place Saving Face

The Stresses of Work

The workplace provides a fertile space for the relational world to weave its magic/unleash its misery. The set of relational senses – honour, respect, pride, envy, shame, humiliation, acceptance, belonging (some of the usual suspects) have a field day with the combination of close relationships, institutional hierarchy and the inevitable emphasis on relative status. As […]

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Saving Face Uncategorized

The Invisible Man, Part 3

The nature of social invisibility, a topic often ignored in intellectual circles, is starting to achieve some level of visibility for itself in the halls of academe. Much of this is a result of Axel Honneth’s pioneering work, an influence to the fore in a recent special edition of Distinktion: the Scandinavian Journal of Social […]

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Saving Face

The Invisible Man, Part 2

H. G. Wells’ short novel The Invisible Man was originally published in 1897, and was subsequently made into a horror movie in 1933, a film that stayed faithful to Wells’ original story. The Invisible Man (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The 1970’s Invisible Man series (with David McCallum), which portrayed the protagonist as a troubled but sympathetic […]

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Saving Face

The Invisible Man, Part 1

For all the trouble it brings, the omnipresent watchful gaze of the relational world does have its benefits. You get noticed, for one thing. This is a significant benefit of an intersubjective existence – no-one dislikes anything more than to remain invisible in a social world dependent on attention, acknowledgement and recognition. To be noticed by […]

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Politics Saving Face

Overstepping the Mark

A previous post, the location of shame, made the case against those who view the relational world as either a sub-set of social class or irrelevant to understanding class as a mechanism of social reproduction. Rather than arguing that emotions such as shame are the effect of class positioning, it was argued that the capacity […]

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Saving Face The Family

The Janus Face

The time between Christmas and New Year is in many countries formally sanctioned ‘downtime’, comprised of several days spent recovering from festive excess. Countries that celebrate Christmas tend to class this period as automatic/grace annual leave for many employees, during which movies get watched, social visits get completed, and really, not much else. Nothing much […]

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Saving Face

Badges of Honour

A long-running saga in the UK, the delayed replacement of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order, or ASBO, is still being met with resistance from some quarters, including the Association of Chief Police Officers (Police chiefs worried by plans to scrap ASBOs). Among other reasons, police chiefs believe that the scrapping of the ASBO will hinder attempts […]

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Keeping Score Saving Face

Spilt Milk

People are fond of saying they don’t suffer from regret – ‘no regrets’ a badge of honour to put on public display, a statement of strength in the face of crisis and failure. The public denial of regret is a performance, designed to show the world that a person’s moral and emotional fortitude can stand […]

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Saving Face

The Public and the Private

The publication in 1959 of Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life had a bigger impact on the social sciences than to be expected from such a dense and sometimes awkward text. The timing helped – its focus on dramaturgy in social interaction in the late 1950s appealed equally to the prevailing processes […]