Playing Your Life: Developing Strategies and Managing Impressions in the Game of Bridge



Punch S & Snellgrove M (2021) Playing Your Life: Developing Strategies and Managing Impressions in the Game of Bridge. Sociological Research Online, 26 (3), pp. 601-619.

This article contributes to the emerging sociology of mind-sport as a new area of research by showing how everyday interaction and life skills are sharpened and honed through strategic interaction at the bridge table. Using the example of the card game bridge, the article explores how elite players engage in time-consuming and repetitive performances that display their ongoing impression management and strategic interaction work. Through interviews with 52 elite bridge players, the article argues that preparation and practice are required to improve play, alongside the ability to combine deception with notions of skilfully supportive transparent play. These contradictions are played out through learning to read the impressions given off by other players as well as plan in a disciplined manner for mistakes made at the table and to support their partner through silence. Using an interactionist framework, this article illustrates how strategic interaction and impression management are skills continually worked on in high-pressured and competitive environments. The article demonstrates the ways that everyday interaction practices are enhanced by and through a competitive mind-sport.

bridge; card games; Goffman; impression management; mind-sports; strategic interaction

Sociological Research Online: Volume 26, Issue 3

FundersKeep Bridge Alive, English Bridge Union and Development and European Bridge League
Publication date30/09/2021
Publication date online10/12/2020
Date accepted by journal20/10/2020
PublisherSAGE Publications

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Professor Samantha Punch

Professor Samantha Punch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology