We need not watch long before we can explain it: he is playing at being a waiter in a café. … The child plays with his body in order to explore it, to take inventory of it; the waiter in the café plays with his condition in order to realize it.
J.-P. Sartre, ‘Being and Nothingness’
In this famous passage about the waiter, the emphasis is placed on role-taking. The analysis stresses the ‘too great’ eagerness and the ‘too keen’ solicitude that the waiter shows the customer; the waiter's ‘movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid’.
Erving Goffman (1961: 85–152) has pursued the same type of analysis in stressing the other aspect of the dialectical relationship between the individual ...