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Social Performance

Alexander writes on the ways actors create social or cultural performances that are the processes by which actors individually or in concert display for others the meaning of their social situation. He claims that actor are sensitive about having others believe the meaning they try to convey and due to this they seek to create a performance as authentic as possible. To do so they engage in what Alexander calls cultural pragmatics and draw upon the various elements of social performance the system of collective representation, means of symbolic production etc. In tribal societies the various elements of cultural performance were tightly fused and were used in collective rituals in which entire tribe take part and its members experience first hand.

In modern societies these various elements became defused and for this reason actors who wish to appear authentic must draw upon various repertoires. Fusion is the moment in a performance when the various elements click together generate an effective performance and ultimately move the audience to psychological identification with the actors. A failed performance will be one that the audience will perceive as inauthentic and will not develop the sense of identification the actors desired.

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