The Drama of Social Life
The Drama of Social Life

In this book Jeffrey Alexander develops the view that cultural sociology and “cultural pragmatics” are vital for understanding the structural turbulence and political possibilities of contemporary social life.

Central to his approach is a new model of social performance that combines elements from both the theatrical avant-garde and modern social theory. Alexander uses this model to shed new light on a wide range of social actors, movements and events: from Mao, Martin Luther King and Fanon to the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter; from Marx and Keynes to the Great Recession; from Ayn Rand and Jean-Paul Sartre to Obama’s re-election in 2012. These and other examples show that social life is strikingly dramatic. Producing successful dramas determines the outcome of social movements and provides the keys to political power. Modernity has neither eliminated aura nor suppressed authenticity: on the contrary, they are available to social actors who can perform them in compelling ways.

This volume further consolidates Alexander’s reputation as one of the most original social thinkers of our time. It will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, cultural studies and throughout the social sciences and humanities.

Show More
Buy Now


Order Exam Copy

For lectures Only

More Info
  • May 2017
  • 180 pages
  • 229 x 152 mm / 9 x 6 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509518128
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509518135
  • Open eBook $24.95
  • 9781509518166
About the Author
Jeffrey C. Alexander

is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University and a Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale.
Show More


"Jeffrey Alexander’s The Drama of Social Life reveals the ability this essential American social theorist to unpack and explain the dynamic dramas of large–scale change. Ranging from Tahir Square to the Black Lives Matter movement to the Obama White House, Alexander connects these world–shaking political events to their essential performative qualities, a core feature of modernity. There are some books that are designed to be read and others demand to be read and discussed. This collection of linked essays is the latter."
Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University

""From Mao to Martin Luther King, Mubarak’s Egypt to Obama’s America, the ritual roots of social structure to the performativity of postmodern everyday life, Alexander shows how we live and act today. This book is a necessary update on Erving Goffman and Victor Turner, a brilliantly illuminating must–read for all humanists, social scientists, and dramaturges."
Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Show More