“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
"The appropriate size of the unit for conceptualizing a person is not a behavior but a life history."
"You do not know that your intentions will be carried out but you can suppose that they will be. Then you must have an idea about the rest of your day. Don't you feel that solid line as it stretches out into the future, fraught with cares, responsibilities, joys, and griefs? In looking ahead there is a certain movement, and where there is movement a line begins."
"I spoke of performers and audiences; of routines and parts; of performances coming off or falling flat; of cues, stage settings and backstage; of dramaturgical needs, dramaturgical skills, and dramaturgical strategies. Now it should be admitted that this attempt to press a mere analogy so far was in part a rhetoric and a maneuver."
Further thoughts on "Through-Lines and the Dramaturgical Pattern" A Reformulation for Descriptive Psychology
"Through-Lines", a type of linked Dramaturgical Pattern, is a conceptual tool for Descriptive Psychology's Dramaturgical Model. A more precise formulation:
Descriptive Psychology has:
Four components of the Person Concept: Individual Person, Behavior, Language, and World
The Person as Actor, Observer and Critic
A Dramaturgical Model
"In the Dramaturgical Model, behavior is intrinsically and fundamentally a matter of creating and realizing personal and social dramas. Human lives are intrinsically and fundamentally dramatic in form."
"... a drama is a structured behavioral episode or series of episodes which makes sense to Us." (p. 290, The Behavior of Persons)
The Dramaturgical Pattern: An Individual Person behaving as a Deliberate Actor, engaged in specific Social Practices based on their Significance, constructs a Real World that makes sense and can be represented using Language (“Essence is expressed by grammar” Wittgenstein).
Through-lines are significance-implementation-achievement patterns of social practices. Through-lines are the observed patterns of choice made by a person that reflect what the person finds intrinsic. Linked intrinsic social practices are through-lines. A set of temporally co-occuring through-lines, a "bundle", constitute some of the intentional aspects of the overall Dramaturgical Pattern for any meaningful duration up to and including a person's entire life span. (The word "world" derives from an old Anglo-Saxon locution that meant "the course of a man's life").
Nothing necessarily ties the bundle together except that the varied through-lines express the person's significant concerns enacted in the same life-interval. Sequential and co-occurring through-lines may be relatively independent, or have a dynamic relationship of interdependence, conflict, complementarity, inhibition, and so on.
The overall Dramaturgical Pattern with its constituent through-lines involve a person's response to sought-after and unsought circumstances. Accidents and the passage of time are the not chosen features of life that necessarily shape a person's history. A person's life also includes average expected challenges that follow from age, sex, gender, class, culture, appearance, etc.
The overall Dramaturgical Pattern involves social practices independent from what an observer classifies as a through-line. Some challenges and opportunities might happen infrequently resulting in "one-off" behavior hard to classify. The observer may be noncommittal about assigning such behavior as in or out of character for the person. Some social practices may not be part of a discernible through-line.
A person creates his world in the wake of his progress. The observer-critic notes the quality and significance of how the actor's implementations create, change and maintain the actor's real world.
From a Observer's perspective, a through-line is a set of social practices, extended over time, that constitute the enactment of a status that is a significant aspect of a person's identity. The Observer can be oneself or another.
A person's self-knowledge of engaging in what she finds intrinsically significant will correspond to what she can acknowledge as in-character. Observers may differ about the adequacy or accuracy of such self-status assignments.
Given continued relevance and opportunity, a through-line can appear, disappear and reappear. Significant changes in what a person finds intrinsically significant correspond to where a through-line may start and end.
There are as many through-lines as an Observer can potentially identify.
Identification and Knowledge of Through-Lines:
To say that a Person "A" knows one of Person "B's" Through-Lines, she would have observed that
A) "B" engaged in a series of social practices that
B) Share a common significance
C) The specific implementation/performance of the practices
D) What the implementations achieved in "B's" world
E) What "B" knows regarding what the implementations achieved
F) How "B" appraised the consequences of the achievement
G) How "B" did or did not correct his course of action based on his appraisal of the consequences.
H) A significance description that encompasses A) through G) and names this particular through-line. (Reduce the details until a workable encompassing significance description is offered)
The through-line will describe improvisational creative engagements with the circumstances of a person's world in which a person's relevant personal characteristics are identified as making understandable the way the person acts given their opportunities and dilemmas.
To the extent that an Observer identifies linked intrinsic social practices germane to the actor's identity, she will have identified a through-line. She could just as well be commenting on the actor's world since she will be offering a commentary that links the actor's personal characteristics to the sort of world he finds, creates and maintains.
The Descriptive Psychological concept "through-lines" resides in an intermediate zone between social practices and ways of life. People know how they expect to live their lives; looking back, their observer-critics can understand what they actually did.
Incomplete descriptions of through-lines that lack information regarding their Significance correspond to Dispositional descriptions of traits, attitudes, interests and styles.
Examples can be found in the posting, "Examples of Through-Lines".