Disruption and the theory of the interaction order

Iddo Tavory*, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Micro-sociological theory has traditionally stressed interactional pressures towards alignment: actors’ attempts to co-construct a shared definition of the situation. We argue that this model provides an insufficient account of the coordination of action and of the emergence of intersubjectivity among actors. To complement the focus on alignment, we develop a theory of disruption—a perceived misalignment of the dramaturgical structure of interaction in coordinating expected lines of action. We develop a theory of the interaction order that takes the interplay between interactional alignment and disruption as a foundational challenge both for sociology and for actors in their everyday lives. We focus on the practical ways in which actors negotiate both interactional breaches and wider relational ruptures, and how they differentiate between disruptions-of relations and disruptions-for them. By doing so, we connect the interaction order to a wider relational order, providing a bridge between micro-level interactionism and the sociology of culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-385
Number of pages21
JournalTheory and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Culture
  • Disruption
  • Interaction
  • Microsociology
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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