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Outline, explain, and discuss the concept(s) of performance and

performativity in contemporary social research

Sherman Tan
School of Sociology
College of Arts and Social Sciences
The Australian National University
Paper written for SOCY2043 - Qualitative Research Methods; Assignment 3. 2,500 words. 50%.
Lecturer/Tutor: David Bissell. (Last edited: November 10th, 2011)
Rleioiical man is an acioi; lis iealiiy public, diamaiic. His sense of ideniiiy, lis self, depends on
ile ieassuiance of daily lisiiionic ieenacimeni. He is ilus cenieied in iime and concieie local
eveni. Tle lowesi common denominaioi of lis life is a social siiuaiion. |...j He assumes a naiuial
agiliiy in clanging oiieniaiions. He liis ile siieeis alieady siieei-wise.
(Lanlam iqy6: :)
Tle impoiiance of ile concepis of "peifoimaiiviiy" and "peifoimance" inleies in ileii
abiliiy io pioei new and consiiuciive visions of social oidei, conduci and ielaiions. In ilis
essay, I wisl io ciiiically inieiiogaie !"# ile fguie and meiaploi of ile "peifoimaiive",
wlicl oiiginaied fiom wiilin ile lumaniiies (in disciplines as diveise as Diama and
Tleaiie Siudies, Dance, Music, and Aii), las been incieasingly ialen up in ile social
sciences, especially as a concepiual and]oi oiganizaiional fiame iliougl wlicl social
plenomena and luman expeiiences aie undeisiood and desciibed. Wlile ile peifoimaiiviiy
of social life las, in ieceni yeais, been given due aiieniion by a pleiloia of sclolais,
I lope
io focus on low iwo coniempoiaiy social ileoiisis in paiiiculai - }udiil Builei and }eiey
Alexandei - lave piesenied dieieni (bui also, in some insiances, oveilapping) fiamewoils
foi biidging ile peifoimance-socialiiy divide, foiegiounding veiy specifc congiuences
beiween peifoimaiiviiy, on ile one land, and coniexi, communicaiion, and social
inieiaciion, on ile oilei. Fiisi and foiemosi (dedicaiing mosi of my essay io ilis
enieipiise), I will examine low peifoimance, in Builei's and Alexandei's woil, is piesenied
as a useful meiaploiical consiiuci in ile seivice of undeisianding luman socialiiy and
Prominent scholars who have dealt with the relation between performance and sociality include (but are not limited to)
Victor Turner (performance, ritual, and social conict), Erving Goffman (performative dimensions of self-presentation and
identity management), Richard Schechner (artistic performance as extended to other domains, e.g. politics, cultural ceremonies)
and Richard Bauman (performative aspects of verbal art, e.g. poetics). For a more comprehensive discussion of these theorists,
see States (1996) and Sawin (2002). Most denitely, some of these scholars have inuenced Judith Butlers and Jeffrey
Alexanders work - for instance, Alexander adheres to Turner and Goffmans ideas in many ways, while Butler explicitly
distances herself from Goffmans ideas of performative intentionality. I will return to some of these intellectual heritages, later
on in my essay.
ideniiiy. Indeed, ii is impoiiani io considei boil ile %"&'(&)*+, and +)-)&, of ileii socio-
peifoimaiive models, especially wlen iley aie confionied wiil ile ciiiical iasl of claiifying
(and elaboiaiing on) concepis of luman agency, inieniionaliiy and ieexiviiy. My geneial
aigumeni leie is ilai Builei and Alexandei's woil slould noi be iead as sepaiaie]
incongiueni ileoieiical fiamewoils of peifoimaiiviiy, bui iailei, ilai iley do complemeni
eacl oilei in many ways - ai iimes, iley can be seen as "flling in" ile gaps in one anoilei's
analyses. Talen iogeilei, ileii wiiiings piovide a iicl iapesiiy of peispeciives and meanings
wiil iegaids io undeisianding ile peifoimance of eveiyday socialiiy. Secondly, I believe
ilai "peifoimaiiviiy" also piesenis vaiious clallenges and complexiiies foi ile aciual
-'&!"."+"/)0*+ 0"(.10& of qualiiaiive social ieseaicl. If social scieniisis aie io seiiously
come io ieims wiil ilis peifoimaiive "iuin", iley iequiie new ways of engaging ile social
and undeisianding ile luman "subjeci", in oidei io iianslaie ilese ileoieiical
undeisiandings inio a myiiad of concieie ieseaicl piaciices, foi insiance, wiil iegaids io
low iley conduci inieiviews and social suiveys, oi in ileii wiiiing of eilnogiaplic accounis
and]oi case-siudies. In ilis iespeci, ii las become especially ciucial io asl: 2!*& -)/!& *
%'34"3-*&)5' 6-'&!"."+"/)0*+7 ,"0)*+ ,0)'(0' %3*0&)0' 3','-8+'9
In ile lisioiy of Wesiein plilosoplical ilougli, peifoimance las ofien been deiided as
illusoiy and viewed as a coiiupiive siain on ile idealized lallmails of lnowledge, logical
ilinling, and luman iaiionaliiy. Since ile iime of ile Ancienis, Gieel plilosopleis lave
iegaided peifoimance as meie imiiaiion, inauileniic, and as a lessei foim of belavioi ilai
was lacling in ingenuiiy (in coniiasi io piogiessive ilougli]ieason). Foi insiance, Plaio, in
:!' ;'%18+)0, desciibes low Sociaies declaied ile playwiigli's cieaiions as "pooi ilings by
ile siandaids of iiuil and iealiiy" consideiing "lis appeal |asj noi io ile liglesi paii of ile
soul, bui io one wlicl is |...j infeiioi", indeed, "le is an image-malei wlose images aie
planioms fai iemoved fiom iealiiy" (iqi |appiox. yo B.C.E.j: y). As }ames Winn (iqqS: )
noies, ileie lave been "exiieme aiiacls on peifoimance in Wesiein lisioiy, many of ilem
launcled by people claiming io iepieseni ile lumaniiies oi lumanism oi luman values".
Againsi ilis condemnaiion of peifoimance, le believes ilai "sclolais and aiiisis lave mucl
io leain fiom eacl oilei" and poinis io "ile analogies beiween ile inieipieiive woil of an
acioi |...j and |ilaij of a sclolai", advocaiing a "poieniial dialogue beiween piimaiy cieaiois
and inielleciual ileoiisis" (Winn iqqS: i:i). Wlile Winn males acuie obseivaiions and
I hope to dedicate most of my essay to the rst section (interrogating Alexander and Butlers work on performance/
performativity in social life), and address the second (the challenge of performance/performativity for research practice) by way
of a suggestive conclusion.
piesciipiions, ile social-ileoieiical woil caiiied oui by }eiey Alexandei and }udiil Builei
ie-viialize ile impoiiance of peifoimance in a dieieni (bui noneileless ciucial) mannei:
iley aiiempi io demonsiiaie ilai peifoimance is )(,'%*3*8+' 43"- eveiyday social piaciice;
in ilis sense, luman subjecis aie *0&"3, (oi "piimaiy cieaiois", in Winn's accouni) in ile
mosi liieial sense possible - iley %'34"3-<*0& "1& ileii lives, belaviois and aciions. If Winn
calls foi ileoiisis io iale peifoimance moie seiiously, ii migli be because ile peifoimaiive
is especially ielevani (and applicable) io an undeisianding of social and culiuial life, an
undeilying ileme in Alexandei's and Builei's wiiiings, wlicl I now iuin io.
Veiy bioadly, peifoimaiiviiy las been iegaided as occupying a ceniial iole in ile
mainienance of social oidei and]oi siiuciuie. Tlis is undeilying similaiiiy in boil
Alexandei and Builei's ideas on social peifoimance, bui iley ceiiainly undeisiand ile
peifoimaiive piocesses of social siiuciuiaiion
]consiiiuiion in veiy dieieni ways.
Accoiding io Alexandei (:oo: (6), "culiuial peifoimance is ile social piocess by wlicl
aciois, individually oi in conceii, display foi oileis ile meaning of ileii social siiuaiion".
He calls foi a ileoiizaiion of "culiuial piagmaiics", in wlicl ile peifoimance of socialiiy can
be seen as successful insofai as iley (peifoimances) can "'ie-fuse' ileii incieasingly
disiangled elemenis" of "aciois, audiences, iepieseniaiions, means of symbolic pioduciion,
social powei, and -),'='(=,0'('" (Alexandei :oo6: :q, (o). Tlis opeiaies againsi ile
bacldiop of modein complex socieiies wlicl aie incieasingly "segmenied and dieieniiaied
|...j colleciiviiies" and wleie ilese peifoimaiive elemenis lave become "de-
fused" (Alexandei :oo6: :). Oveiall, Alexandei aigues ilai
To be eeciive in a socieiy of incieasing complexiiy, social peifoimances musi engage in a piojeci
of 3'=41,)"(. To ile degiee iley aclieve ie-fusion, social peifoimances become convincing and
eeciive - moie iiiual-lile. To ile degiee ilai social peifoimances iemain de-fused, iley seem
aiiifcial and coniiived, less lile iiiuals ilan lile peifoimances in ile pejoiaiive sense. |...j Tlis
peifoimaiive failuie males ii mucl moie diculi foi ile acioi io iealize lis oi lei inieniions in a
piaciical way. |auiloi's iialicsj
(Alexandei :oo6: :)
Cleaily, Alexandei's socio-peifoimaiive model is piemised on a ieading of Emile Duilleim's
laiei woil, wlicl suggesis ilai a socieiy's membeis "aie uniied because iley imagine ile
While structuration is a term commonly associated with Anthony Giddens social-theoretical writings, I hope to use it here
without the meanings implied in his work. For me, structuration here simply refers to the process whereby the social order is
actualized both metaphysically and/or epistemologically (in social-subjective consciousness).
sacied woild and iis ielaiion wiil ile piofane woild in ile same way, and because iley
iianslaie ilis common iepieseniaiion inio ideniical piaciices" (Duilleim iqq |iqi:j: (i). Ii
also diaws leavily on Vicioi Tuinei's ideas on ile naiuialness and piimacy of iiiual as a
dimension of social life and ile mainienance of oidei (see Tuinei iqy(). Tlis is evideni in
Alexandei's model, wleie social peifoimance is of a iiiualized and iepeaied naiuie, aclieves
a seiilemeni of inieinal conicis wiilin culiuies, and aims ai iebuilding social colesion. I
believe ilai Eiving Goman's inuence can also be disceined in Alexandei's woil, especially
since peifoimance las an inieniional and delibeiaie (oi delibeiaiive]calculaied) elemeni io
ii (see Goman iqq, on ile self-as-peifoimei, ile diamaiuigical pieseniaiion of self, and
ile conscious oiganizaiion]managemeni of social ioles and expeciaiions). Ii is a
peifoimance 4"3 someiling, oi 4"3 someone, as an aci ilai is "3)'(&'. &"#*3., an
aclievemeni of ceiiain ouicomes, iegaidless of wleilei ilose ouicomes aie successfully
}udiil Builei, on ile oilei land, wlile similaily emplasizing ile peifoimaiive consiiiuiion
of social oidei, piesenis a dieieni vision (coniia Alexandei) of low siiuciuial noimaiiviiy
and siabiliiy is esiablisled and mainiained.
In lei examinaiion of gendei peifoimaiiviiy,
Builei aigues ilai ile "mundane iepioduciion of gendeied ideniiiy iales place iliougl ile
vaiious ways in wlicl bodies aie acied in ielaiionslip io ile deeply eniiencled oi
sedimenied expeciaiions of gendeied exisience" (iqSS: :(). Sle suggesis ilai
Tle aci ilai one does, ile aci ilai one peifoims, is, in a sense, an aci ilai las been going on
befoie one aiiived on ile scene. Hence, gendei is an aci wlicl las been ieleaised, mucl as a
sciipi suivives ile paiiiculai aciois wlo male use of ii, bui wlicl iequiies individual aciois in
oidei io be aciualized and iepioduced as iealiiy once again.
(Builei iqSS: :6)
To ilis exieni ilen, ii seems ilai Builei's ideas on peifoimaiiviiy and social life aie
compaiible wiil ilose of Alexandei's, in ile sense ilai boil of ilem aie conceined wiil and
iecognize ile ceniialiiy of peifoimaiiviiy io ile (ie-)siiuciuiaiion and iniegiiiy of ile social
I will return to this point about the intentionality, deliberateness and agency of performance later on in my discussion.
Indeed, this is the main difference that persists between Alexander and Butlers models of social performativity.
Although most of her work centers around the social performativity of gender, I would agree with Valerie Hey that Butlers
writings open up an important and exhilarating theoretical landscape and can be viewed more broadly as the linking [of] the
social processes of subjective re/formation to the altering landscapes of the self made possible within communities within which
we come to understand our place (Hey 2006: 439, 453). Hence, one can distill from Butlers work on gender performances
more general insights of the specter of the performative as applied to a variety of social domains and interactions.
oidei. Addiiionally, in ile Buileiian view, ilis social oidei is moie expliciily linled io
ceiiain ideniiiy and subjeci posiiions, and "peifoimance" can be seen as a meclanism
wleieby pie-exisiing social confguiaiions aie iepioduced.
Howevei, ilis is as fai as ile similaiiiies beiween Alexandei and Builei's noiion of
peifoimance]socialiiy go. Indeed, Builei avoids an ageniially '>%3',,)5' (oi ,&3*&'/)0) view of
social peifoimaiiviiy. Sle disiances leiself fiom Eiving Goman and lis view of "a self
wlicl assumes and exclanges vaiious 'ioles' wiilin ile complex social expeciaiions of ile
'game' of modein life", aiguing ilai "gendei cannoi be undeisiood as a 3"+' wlicl eiilei
expiesses oi disguises an inieiioi 'self'". Accoiding io lei, "gendei iealiiy is cieaied iliougl
susiained social peifoimances |...j |andj ile veiy noiions of an esseniial sex, a iiue oi
abiding masculiniiy oi femininiiy, aie also consiiiuied as paii of ile siiaiegy by wlicl ile
peifoimaiive aspeci of gendei is concealed" (Builei iqSS: :S). In oilei woids: "ile ley io
oui ideniiiy is noi found in some giand and gloiious self sianding piioi io oui aciions,
insiead ii is found in ile peifoimances ilai aie demanded of us and in ile deeds ilai aie
done" (Digesei iqq(: 66). Insiead of emplasizing a peifoimance 4"3, wlicl implies a
ceiiain inieniionaliiy]delibeiaieness in ieims of ialing up ceiiain social posiiions]ioles,
Builei focuses on &!' peifoimance and low ii ielies on ceiiain discouises (oi sciipis, using
ile ileaiie meiaploi) wlicl "pioduce oniological |oi ideniiiy (my ieading)j eecis oi
opeiaie iliougl ile ciiculaiion of oniological moves", including ile delineaiion of "modes
of possibiliiy" of social exisience, as well as ile quesiion of low "0'3&*)( ?)(., "4 ,18@'0&, lay
claim io oniology", and "low |ilese subjecisj 0"1(& oi A1*+)4B as ieal" (Builei iqqS:
In a iadical sense ilen, ideniiiy ."', ("& %3'0'.' ile peifoimaiiviiy of social life,
ii is ile laiiei ilai biings ile foimei inio oniological exisience.
Builei also pioblemaiizes ile idea of subjeci-cenieied )(&'(&)"(*+)&B in peifoimaiive social
aciion, is by quesiioning ceiiain ialen-foi-gianied noiions conceining ile noimaiive]
iniended foice of any given peifoimaiive uiieiance and]oi aci. Moie specifcally, in lei
moie ieceni woil on "laie" oi "iacisi" speecl, sle does piecisely ilis. Accoiding io Builei,
Judith Butlers theoretical writings have been strongly inuenced by certain trends in contemporary (20th Century) French
philosophical thought pertaining to the de-centering of the human/social subject, the problematization of humanism, and
an impetus to critically interrogate the hegemonic nature of language and discourse (premised on Nietzschean ideas of a
relativistic/linguistically-dependent notion of human truth and reason). Both Michel Foucaults ideas on subjection and/or
subjectication in and through the circulation of social discourses, and Jacques Derridas notion of repeatability and re-iterability
of social texts, feature very prominently in Butlers social-performative model.
one always iisls meaning someiling oilei ilan wlai one ilinls one uiieis, |andj one is, as ii
weie, vulneiable in a specifcally linguisiic sense io a social life of language ilai exceeds ile
puiview of ile subjeci wlo speals |...j One cannoi lnow in advance ile meaning ilai ile oilei
will assign io one's uiieiance, wlai conicis of inieipieiaiion may well aiise, and low besi io
adjudicaie ilai dieience.
(Builei iqqy: 6)
As sucl, accoiding io ilis view, models of social peifoimaiiviiy wlicl place a ligl piemium
on ile peifoimei's inieniions io -'*( someiling aie quesiionable, especially since ii
appeais ilai ile meaning of peifoimances slould be equally giounded in an inieipieiive
ileoiy of audience iecepiion always pie-siiuciuied by ile piepondeiance of exisiing social
On ile wlole, I believe ilai Alexandei and Builei's ileoiies, ialen iogeilei, poini io ceiiain
(pioduciive) iensions conceining ile applicaiion of "peifoimance" and ile "peifoimaiive" io
social life, and also suggesi poieniial (fuiuie) ieseaicl agendas in ilis paiiiculai aiea. Fiisily,
ileii peifoimaiive ileoiies suggesi fundamenial and ongoing disagieemenis conceining ile
naiuie of social movemenis, powei, and iesisiance in socieiy. Wlile Alexandei aigues ilai
social peifoimance is inieniional and diiecied iowaids a ie-fusion of socio-ileaiiical
elemenis io aclieve iiiual-lile siaius (as explained above), le also explains ilai
|In coniempoiaiy socieiiesj, sciipis became wiiiien down, ileaiie emeiged, and ieligious,
aesileiic, and ideological specialisis began io aigue aboui ile auileniiciiy and eeciiveness of
iexis and peifoimances. Tle means of symbolic pioduciion became diculi io gain coniiol ovei,
and ile eoiis io do so incieasingly piovoled majoi conicis among social poweis. |...j Powei
came io be mediaied by social movemenis wlose aim was io iivei social aiieniion by pioducing
peisuasive social diamaiic foice. Auileniiciiy emeiged as an exisieniial and plilosoplical
clallenge |...j
(Alexandei :oo: (y-(S)
Hence, powei (and iesisiance iowaids ilai exeicise of powei) in socieiy is dependeni on
social aciois' (boil individuals']gioups') abiliiy io aclieve successful peifoimances aimed ai
ile cieaiion and legiiimaiion of "auileniic" and iiiual-lile]naiuialized]ialen-foi-gianied
social expeiience, susiaining colleciive iepieseniaiions oi socioculiuial "imaginaiions"
wlicl, in iuin, ideologically jusiify a given socio-siiuciuial oidei. Howevei, viewed againsi
Builei's idea of peifoimaiiviiy, ile main issue wiil Alexandei's model migli be ilai ii gives
ioo mucl ciedii io ile auionomous agency of social peifoimeis io &3*(,0'(. and]oi ,&*(.
*%*3& 43"- exisiing social-culiuial oideis and sciipis. Tlis is ceiiainly an impoiiani aspeci of
powei]iesisiance ilai appeais io be oveilooled in Alexandei's wiiiings. Peifoimance is
always a peifoimance "4 someiling, ii simulianeously ielies upon and consiiiuies exisiing
conveniions]sciipis, and ii is nevei ouiside of pie-exisiing social discouises (Builei iqq:: q).
Indeed, iesisiance in]iliougl peifoimance is aclieved by ile subveision of exisiing iexis]
sciipis: Builei's poini is ieally ilai "ii is wlen we aie #)&!)( ile caiegoiies ilai we can be
*/*)(,& ilem because ile limiis of a caiegoiy aie inielligible only #)&!)( ile iules goveining
ilai caiegoiy, #)&!)( ile consiiiuied eecis of ilai caiegoiy" (}aclson :oo(: 6S:). Tlis is an
impoiiani poini foi an Alexandeiian social-peifoimaiive model io considei, especially since
ii suggesis ilai social aciois need io giapple wiil ileii exisiing colleciive iepieseniaiions
and suipass ilem fiom a posiiion of inieiioiiiy. Hence, wlai is iequiied is boil an acuie
ieexive awaieness of ile exisiing culiuial oidei, as well as consiani vigilance io "peifoim"
wiil, bui uliimaiely, againsi, cuiieni iexiual legemonies. Mosi ceiiainly, ileie is mucl io
be done in undeisianding ile %",,)8)+)&B and 0!*3*0&'3),&)0, of social ieexiviiy ilai ilis
vision of social peifoimaiiviiy migli eniail.
Secondly: ile maieiial dimensions of peifoimance and peifoimaiiviiy need io be ileoiized
fuiilei. In ilis iespeci, Alexandei's model of social peifoimance does, io some exieni,
"peifoim" beiiei ilan Builei's. Alexandei expliciily pays aiieniion io ile condiiions iequiied
by successful social peifoimances - wlai le calls ile "means of symbolic pioduciion" - and
le is awaie ilai ilis consisis of "objecis |oi piopsj ilai can seive as iconic iepieseniaiions io
lelp ilem diamaiize and male vivid ile invisible moiives and moials iley aie iiying io
iepieseni", as well as "a plysical place io peifoim and ile means io assuie ile iiansmission
of ileii peifoimance io an audience" (Alexandei :oo6: ). He also suggesis ile impoiiance
of "ieclnical innovaiions", including (bui noi limiied io) sound amplifcaiion, new audio
iecoiding media, and ile adveni of ielevision piogiamming and pioduciion (Alexandei
:oo6: 66). Bui I would lile io poini oui ilai ilis "maieiial" focus needs io be ialen fuiilei.
Ii is noi only ile maieiial .'%'(.'(0' of peifoimance ilai needs io be undeisiood, bui also,
ile maieiial]aeciive 'C'0&, of peifoimance iequiie a gieaiei amouni of ileoieiical
aiieniion. Peifoimance las ile abiliiy io invole emoiionally eeivesceni iesponses in
audiences, bui boil Alexandei's and Builei's ileoiies aie unable io move beyond a
cogniiively-encased (meaning-cenieied]inieipieiaiive) ileoiy of social peifoimaiiviiy.
As sucl, I believe ilai ii is iime io biing inio an undeisianding of "peifoimaiiviiy", social
ileoiies wlicl eiilei (i) emplasize ile iiieducibiliiy of maieiialiiy (and aeci) io iaiionaliiy
and consciousness, oi (ii) seel io dispense wiil ile maieiial]cogniiion divide aliogeilei. In
ilis iespeci, wlai las come io be lnown as "non-iepieseniaiional ileoiy" may coniiibuie
usefully io ile undeisianding of ile aeciiviiy of social peifoimance. Tlis eniails a
ileoiizaiion of wlai is "pieseni in expeiience" (Tliifi :ooy: ), and undeisianding
expeiience )( )&,'+4, iailei ilan iieaiing expeiience as a "synileiic fascimile of iaw sense
daia", oi an "afiei ile eveni eveni |...j, someiling ilai we male sense of ieiiospeciively
iliougl ieeciive coniemplaiion" (McCoimacl :oio: :oi). Peilaps only ilen can we biidge
a noiion of social peifoimaiiviiy wiil ilai of "a disiiibuied, immaneni feld of sensible
piocessualiiy wiilin wlicl cieaiive vaiiaiions give iise io modifcaiions and movemenis of
ilinling" (McCoimacl :oio: :o:).
Finally, ii is equally impoiiani io aclnowledge ilai ile noiion of a "peifoimed" social life
las concieie implicaiions foi ieseaicl meilodologies and piaciice. On one level, ile noiion
of social peifoimaiiviiy weigls leavily on ile conduci of ieseaiclei-paiiicipani
obseivaiions and inieiaciions. As Denzin noies in lis analysis of ile posimodein social
|ii isj a dialogic conveisaiion, |...j ile siie and occasion foi |...j peifoimances: ilai is, ile
inieiview is iuined inio a diamaiic, poeiic iexi. In iuin, ilese iexis aie peifoimed, given diamaiic
(Denzin :ooi: :y)
Wlai is especially ciucial leie, I would aigue, is ile "dialogic" naiuie of ile inieiview in
wlicl 8"&! ile inieiviewei and inieiviewee can be seen as co-pieseni (and concuiieni)
peifoimeis in ile coniexi of ile ieseaicl inieiaciion. In ilis iespeci, ilese siiuaiions, as
viewed iliougl ile iiope of ile peifoimaiive, can ieally be seen as peifoimances 4"3 and
#)&! one anoilei (ile ieseaiclei, and ile ieseaicled). Tlis complicaies ilings foi any
siiaiglifoiwaid view of "daia-colleciion" in ile inieiview. A numbei of issues aie signifcani
leie. Tle peifoimance of one inieilocuioi can poieniially aliei (on a cogniiive]aeciive
level) ile siaie of ile oilei, suggesiing ilai eacl iesponds]consianily oiienis oneself
iowaids piioi peifoimaiive iendiiions of inieiview iexis, life sioiies, accounis]iecounis of
expeiiences, culiuial sciipis, eic. Ai ile same iime ii is impoiiani io asl if ile peifoimance
is fundamenially oiienied iowaids one anoilei, oi if ii is a paiiicipaioiy]joini peifoimance
ilai is salieni ai any given momeni. Peilaps undei ceiiain ciicumsiances, ii is noi so mucl
ile peifoimaiive /"*+ bui iailei ile peifoimaiive *0&)5)&B ilai dominaies ile ieseaicl
On anoilei level, ii is necessaiy io submii ile idea of "peifoimance" iiself io ciiiical sciuiiny
and ie-evaluaiion in oidei io avoid a closuie of iis meaning. Even as peifoimance and
peifoimaiiviiy aie compielensively discussed in ilis essay, ii is impoiiani io ieeci on
wleilei social ieseaicl piivileges ceiiain foims of peifoimance ovei oileis - lence, ile
quesiion of "wlai counis as a ileoieiically 3'0"/()D*8+' oi +'/)&)-*&' peifoimance" comes io
ile foie. As sucl, I believe ilai social ieseaicleis iequiie an openness io new foims of
peifoimances (foi insiance, ilose wlicl blend vaiious genies iogeilei, do noi fi wiil
Wesiein genies, and]oi iianscend a iange of aiiisiic media). Ii las also become necessaiy io
pose ile diculi (bui ineviiable) quesiion of wleilei ieseaicleis ilemselves "peifoim" ile
legemonic sciipis of ile inielleciual academy in ileii piofessional aciiviiies, and if a
iesisiance io ilis academic peifoimaiiviiy is possible, feasible and susiainable.
In conclusion, ii is cleai ilai ile concepis of "peifoimaiiviiy" and "peifoimance" las, and
will coniinue io aclieve piominence in coniempoiaiy social ieseaicl. Peilaps ilis is due io
iis analyiical uiiliiy as a biidging]unifying fiamewoil ilai seives io biing disciplines
conceined wiil iexiualiiy and meaning, on ile one land, and ilose focusing on individual,
social, culiuial and poliiical piaciice, on ile oilei, mucl closei iogeilei. Yei, ai ile same
iime, ii is equally evideni ilai clallenges iemains foi a ileoiizaiion of ile peifoimaiive
aspecis of socialiiy - boil as a meiaploi foi luman (iniei-)subjeciive expeiience, and wiil
iegaids io iis impaci on ile meilodological aciualiiies of ieseaicl piaciice. I lave sougli io
biing iogeilei ilese dieieni (and exiiemely complex) ilieads of discussion in a condensed
mannei, and in a way, lave iiied io %'34"3- a synilesis of ilese elemenis. Bui I am
consianily ieminded ilai peifoimance is fascinaiing and enilialling, %3'0),'+B 8'0*1,' ii
eniails a qualiiy of incompleieness, of paiiialiiy, and of iadical coniingency oiienied iowaids
fuiuie possibiliiy, in ile same way ilai sciipis and iexis aie ie-coniexiualized, ie-diiecied,
and ie-woven, allowing foi subsequeni peifoimances io &3*(,/3',,, and peilaps, ,13%*,,, iis
piedecessois. Ii falls on my ieadeis, ilen, io assess ilis paiiiculai iexi as well as my
inielleciual peifoimaiiviiy of ileoieiical exegesis, and maybe, io seel io ie-peifoim, oui-
peifoim, oi simply un-peifoim iis signifcance.
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