Coolness In Everyday Life

Why do we use the word "cool" to refer to at least three different phenomena?

coolness under fire, poise under pressure,

acting cool in a style sense

affectively detached despite emotional context

Playing high stakes

Social risk

Recall Goffman's two a prioris: you will be treated as what you claim to be; you have to back it up.


  1. Definitions and Types (90.4)
    1. Three types of Risk
      1. physical, financial, social
  2. Performances require that we "pull it off" despite "interruptions, intrusions, and prop failures." (91)
  3. Two types of coolness
    1. I "deft and casual repair of self or self-possessions"
    2. II presence of mind in the face of disaster (recall "routinization of disaster") (92.3)
  4. Embarrassment as generic threat, coolness as being able to avoid (92.5)
    1. Audience tact. Tact about tact. (92.6)
    2. Coolness as quality and coolness as prize
  5. Synonyms: savoir faire, aplomb, sang-froid, affective neutrality
    1. All represent control in the performance of a role.
  6. Cool, routinized, and loss of cool role behavior (93.1)
  7. Occasions on which coolness is called for
    1. Moral contests
    2. First time activities (temporal newcomers)
    3. Anomic activities (in which actor(s) don't know the rules) (spatial newcomers)
  8. Coolness and social circles (why is newness or outsiderness such a liability?
  9. Coolness is a sort of master of the social (control of self playing roles) — underlying "poise"

Let's Talk

Brainstorm on synonyms.
Phrases describing risky situations.
Brainstorm on synonyms for uncool or losing one's cool.

Examples of physical risk.
Examples of instrumental risk.
Examples of social risk.

Lyman and Scott don't say it in so many words, but they imply that "coolness," as they have described it, is more a male character trait than a female one.
Why do sunglasses make you cool?

How are the gang members described by Katz masters of cool?

Cards: example of situation in which I wish I were able to be cool.
Example of a coolness FAIL!

See also