Investigating and Contextualizing Dramaturgical Perspectives
Insights from Abhinavagupta and Social Psychology
Keywords:Religion, culture, dramaturgical perspective, social psychology, Saivism
Believing that “all the world’s a stage” exemplifies using theater as a metaphor for life, also known as a dramaturgical perspective (DP). This project examines DPs in two historical contexts—contemporary psychological research, and the work of medieval Indian philosopher and literary theorist Abhinavagupta. Recent psychological research suggests that viewing oneself as “acting out a part” protects against social threats, but can simultaneously be alienating. Abhinavagupta posits that recognizing performativity can aestheticize life in a way that offers freedom from reified notions of self and other. This divergence suggests that DPs are entwined with cultural contexts. To test this, we examined the association of cultural orientations with responses to the DP among US emerging adults (N = 1146). Cultural variables were associated with DP endorsement, and with a key component of associations between DP endorsement and distress: feelings of inauthenticity. The discussion focuses on salient socio-cultural dimensions of DP operation.
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