Dramaturgical framing is essentially applying the metaphor of theater to life, analyzing people's actions and interactions as performances. This idea predates Erving Goffman's sociological application of the concept, going back at least as far as Shakespeare's lines in As You Like It:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts ...
As with any metaphor, dramaturgical framing will be more effective in some cases than in others. Specifically, it is of most use when the subject behaves very differently in different social situations and appears to have another distinct personality when alone.
Even in such a case, however, dramaturgical framing is best viewed as one part of the sociologist's diverse toolkit rather than as a doctrinaire approach that explains everything. In his essay
"Dramaturgical Analysis and Societal Critique" (attached below), John Welsh explores the numerous uses of dramaturgical framing but also comments on its limitations. Welsh is particularly concerned that dramaturgy does not provide any ideological framework and that those who employ it accept existing social structures unquestioningly, refusing to extend their analysis to the context in which their research takes place.