the presentation of self everyday life

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A notable contribution to our understanding of ourselves. This book explores the realm of human behavior in social situations and the way that we appear to others. Dr. Goffman uses the metaphor of theatrical performance as a framework. Each person in everyday social intercourse presents himself and his activity to others, attempts to guide and control the impressions they
A notable contribution to our understanding of ourselves. This book explores the realm of human behavior in social situations and the way that we appear to others. Dr. Goffman uses the metaphor of theatrical performance as a framework. Each person in everyday social intercourse presents himself and his activity to others, attempts to guide and control the impressions they form of him, and employs certain techniques in order to sustain his performance, just as an actor presents a character to an audience. The discussions of these social techniques offered here are based upon detailed research and observation of social customs in many regions.
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Paperback, 259 pages
Published
May 20th 1959
by Anchor Books


(first published January 1st 1959)

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Original Title
The presentation of self in everyday life

ISBN
0385094027
(ISBN13: 9780385094023)

Edition Language
English

  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
  • Günlük Yaşamda Benliğin Sunumu
  • La vita quotidiana come rappresentazione
  • Wir alle spielen Theater. Die Selbstdarstellung im Alltag
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
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Lists with This Book

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Sociology Books

427 books

331 voters

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Lord of the Flies by William Golding Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Best Books of the Decade: 1950’s

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Trevor

Dec 10, 2013

rated it
it was amazing

Shelves:
social-theory

I’m probably going to say something a little daft about this book – but I do think two things: Goffman really didn’t need to be quite so squeamish about his central metaphor of ‘all the world’s a stage’ and he should have started with something he said in his conclusion and worked out from there. That is, that there are five ways you can come to understand an enterprise: technically (what’s it trying to achieve and how does it go about achieving it?), politically (who has power and how do they g
I’m probably going to say something a little daft about this book – but I do think two things: Goffman really didn’t need to be quite so squeamish about his central metaphor of ‘all the world’s a stage’ and he should have started with something he said in his conclusion and worked out from there. That is, that there are five ways you can come to understand an enterprise: technically (what’s it trying to achieve and how does it go about achieving it?), politically (who has power and how do they get, use and sustain that power?), structurally (what is the internal organisation of the enterprise and how does it use that structure to communicate with the outside world?) and culturally (although this is more concerned with the moral values of the organisation in its relations with the outside world).

Now, if you were counting you’d have noticed only four ways for you to understand an organisation. Of course, the fifth way is what Goffman calls dramaturgically, the performance and staging that goes into creating the representation that is sought after. This is the one this book is most concerned with. I think it would have been good for him to start with this as I had thought this book was going to be much more focused on the individual, and it really isn’t – and that really is a good thing.

I think his main problem with the idea of ‘performance’ is that people really don’t see what they do in life as being a performance. The idea of a performance implies that a kind of lie is involved. You know, in the way we can think of actors as basically liars. But his point is that to successfully perform – to carry off these performances – you have to believe in them. Like in that Ani Difranco song As Is, “What bugs is that you believe what you’re saying, what bothers me is that while you’re telling me stories you actually believe that they are real”.

This book starts with the presentation of self in the way that we would probably expect a book of this title to start – with the individual. There are people, people are individuals, they present themselves in various ways to other people. If that presentation is sane or not seeking to cheat or defraud then all is good with the world. In fact, a large part of what we do in life would seem to be a kind of ‘making sure’ the performances we observe from others match some kind of reality. This is the third book by Goffman I’ve read this year and one of the things I often think he is going to do is a kind of intelligent persons body language book – but it never quite becomes that. In this one I was half expecting him to say how you can tell if someone is ‘faking it’. The problem is that he sort of does do this – he tells us that everyone is ‘faking it’.

We like to present to the world an image of ourselves that takes some effort to sustain. This presentation is based on habits, but also on notions of the kinds of people we actually are. Like in that saying, “Fake it until you make it”, a lot of what we do is done because it is the thing someone like us would do.

But this book becomes particularly interesting when it moves away from the individual as the focal point of presentation and onto teams, groups and organisations. What is most interesting about this is the relationship between a performance and the audience. This is a dialectical relationship in all senses – not much point ‘performing’ without an audience – although, obviously enough, we become so convinced of our own performance that we can become our own audience. And the expectations of an audience are a key factor in the path and direction of a performance. This is a very similar idea to Foucault’s panopticon, we are watched so we will behave as if we are watched, so we will behave as if we are watched even when we are not watched. A Clockwork Orange anyone?

There are nice instances in this – in a lot of ways this book is a group of examples strung together to paint a picture – where these relationships between performer, audience and the disinterested are troubled. The metaphor of the performance is extended in this book – he even talks about back stage and front stage and what happens when audience members see into the back stage with the actors relaxing for a moment out of character. Better still, he talks about how almost invariably people backstage tend to downgrade those they are performing for. Like the child who bows his head in submission to the teacher only to poke his tongue out at her once her back is turned, we seem to love to point out how foolish those are who fall for our performances.

There is also a lot of talk here about how people develop warning signals, or prompts, to alert other team members that it is time to go back into character. Talking loudly to let your mum know you have arrived home with a friend so she has time to quickly pop things into the dishwasher and sit back down casually as if she had been a portrait all day long. Because back stage can become front stage at a moment’s notice.

Teamwork in maintaining a performance is essential. This is true as much in families as in organisations. I guess everyone has worked with someone who ‘is a loose cannon’ and says things about the team that the team would rather remained silent. And isn’t this the reason why, when special guests arrive, the youngest children of the house are shipped off to bed? – as they can’t really be trusted to remember that they are now front of stage, rather than back stage any longer.

Throughout this book I was reminded of North By Northwest, a favourite Hitchcock film, particularly the first scene where James Mason meets Cary Grant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdFVxv… . The idea that Grant is playing an advertising executive is utterly inspired. In this scene, he is confronted by someone who ‘knows’ he is a spy, and so everything he does is being read in a way that is different from what he intends. Everything is subtext made explicit by Mason. This is, of course, something from Kafka. It is a nightmare, but nightmares can only frighten us because they present something we are afraid of. Having our ‘performance’ shown as being based on a fraud, or being seen as a fraud, is obviously a nightmare many of us share.

This is the thing, our performance requires our audience to be somewhat forgiving. So, we gather props about ourselves to make the performance all the more so. I’ve come down with some sort of flu over the last week or so and have been to the doctor more times in the last week than in the last year. Anyway, he’s been sending me off for tests which come back with no result. The thing is, in his surgery we do pretty much the same routine each time. Blood pressure, stethoscope to the chest, check the temperature in my ear. How much of this is for show and how much for real diagnostic purposes is hard to say. It is clear, though, that each is part of the performance and that I possibly wouldn’t feel right about having seen the doctor if these scenes weren’t acted out in their turn.

This is perhaps also the problem when people ‘marry up’ out of their own social class. They get an entrée into the backstage realm of a world that should have been forever hidden to them normally. A place that ought to have remained secret. Or to go back to my other obsession – the idea of people ‘gaining a middle class education’ and the difficulties this often presents them as has been documented in a million books, from Great Expectations to Mr Pip.

So, even while we go out of our way to sustain the illusion of ourselves we are seeking to create – oh, maybe illusion is too strong a word, but certainly the impression we are seeking to maintain of our selves and of our competence – there is a sense of irony that is also forever just below the surface (well, if we are lucky).

It is like St Peter walking on the water – he was fine until he started to doubt and the wind picked up giving him good reason to doubt. We create enterprises, organisations, scenes and situations where there can be no doubt, not for us and not for our audiences. We keep out of sight that which might cause doubt in the eyes of our audiences. And we collaborate in these performances. We learn the rules and the actions and rites that will justify us being taken for what we believe we are.

This is why conmen are such a threat, or why insincerity is so debilitating. There actually is no effort involved in suspending disbelief – we are all too keen to believe. If there is an effort in suspending disbelief it cannot be sustained. No one’s performance is good enough, or flawless enough, to face intense scrutiny. Which, I think might just be an important lesson to be learnt by people in positions of authority. It is easy to get a child to read badly – focus on correcting them and they will provide ample evidence that they can’t read at all.

Reading this I couldn’t help but think about how open our society has become, how much more under surveillance we have become. There aren’t nearly as many backstage places where we can set aside our act and relax. I’ve been thinking particularly of ‘open plan office spaces’. I’m not sure it is unequivocally a good thing that people have nowhere to hide and to let their guard down for a moment. I keep thinking of that lovely scene in The Newton Letter by Banville where the man feels incredibly close to the woman he has just made love to as he watches as she unconsciously picks her nose beside him.

This is a great book and will probably mean I’m going to have to read more of Goffman.

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Hadrian

Dec 16, 2010

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psychology-and-cognition ,
society-culture-anthropology-etc

“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.”
-Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Goffman is saying here what Jacques said in Shakespeare, except in more technical language and with more examples. Jacques goes on about the Seven Ages of Man, but Goffman continues the extended metaphor of the theater, describing human social interaction as comprised of roles, and human identity as b
“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.”
-Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Goffman is saying here what Jacques said in Shakespeare, except in more technical language and with more examples. Jacques goes on about the Seven Ages of Man, but Goffman continues the extended metaphor of the theater, describing human social interaction as comprised of roles, and human identity as bounded by these parts and images, whether ‘back stage’, ‘off stage’, or ‘on stage’.

Goffman is no Shakespeare, but a fine sociologist, and a better writer than most.
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Rachel

Aug 26, 2017

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explains in 250 pages why parties are terrible

five stars now, five stars forever

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Cat

Aug 22, 2007

rated it
it was amazing

Recommends it for:
students of human behavior.
Shelves:
sociology ,
socialinteractiontheory

I’m not a student of sociology or psychology, but I can’t seem to stay away from the work of Erving Goffman. This is the third book by Goffman that I’ve read (others: Stigma, Asylums). In this book, Goffman elucidates a “dramaturgical” theory of self, which he claims is an additional method of explaining human action.
First caveat, I’ve not read any books by Talcott Parsons, or Manheim, and there were several sections in this book that were heavy enough in theory to make me give up. Despite thes

I’m not a student of sociology or psychology, but I can’t seem to stay away from the work of Erving Goffman. This is the third book by Goffman that I’ve read (others: Stigma, Asylums). In this book, Goffman elucidates a “dramaturgical” theory of self, which he claims is an additional method of explaining human action.
First caveat, I’ve not read any books by Talcott Parsons, or Manheim, and there were several sections in this book that were heavy enough in theory to make me give up. Despite these difficult sections, Goffman’s style is breezy and interesting enough to make th is book worth reading for a layman.

Roughly, Goffman sets up a model of human interaction that takes most of its metaphors from the realm of theatrical performance. Human interaction takes place between performers and audiences, interactions happen front stage or back stage. This theatrical metaphor is joined by the idea that human actors interact in teams that share similar motives and values. He joins this “team” idea to the theatrical metaphor by emphasizing the difference between performers and audiences.

After laying out his framework, Goffman then uses examples from literature, his own research, and other researchers to illustrate his point. It is in this section that his writing can seem a bit dated. For example, he repeatedly discusses how college educated women will “play dumb” for their boy friends. I’m not saying this doesn’t (still) happen, but the example could use somet updating.

One of the main insights that I took away from this excellent book is that humans largely exist as social beings through their interactions with other creatures, and the idea of a person as an “individual” is, itself, largely a construct. This largely contradicts much of the books/music I imbibed as a teen and young adult (Ayn Rand, punk rock, I’m looking at you).
It also seems to me that this “dramaturgical” perspective is a thesis that has been widely adopted by the self-help movement. Perhaps I will now explore some of that (voluminous) literature. Perhaps not.

This book is not without it’s more disquieting moments. One thought this book led me to is that the important thing in life is the maintaining of whatever appearance one is required to maintaining. So long as that appearance is maintained, what lies underneath (i.e. the traditional concept of self or personality) is effectively unimportant. If we are only what are interactions with others make us, then what we think/feel on the inside and don’t share with others, matters not at all.

Goffman himself explains that the dramaturgical perspective is merely another aspect of a larger attempt to explain human action in terms of human INTERaction, but for me, it has great explanatory weight.

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Umut

Jan 04, 2015

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Güzel kitap. Günlük yaşama dair dramaturjik bakış; Bir tiyaro mu oynuyoruz her gün? Sahne ile kulis arasında mı koşuşturuyoruz? Bir sahnenin oyuncusu, bir diğerinin seyircisi miyiz?

Genel kabul görmüş ve yaygın bir görüş kesinlikle: “Dünya bir sahne.” Çoğumuz dünyaya herşeyi bilerek geldiğimizden dolayı (daha doğrusu her şeyi bilerek yetiştiğimizden) burada da bıyık altından gülmemiz doğal. Maskeli balo ve onun sahte yüzleri. Bunu görmüştük, bildiğimiz şeyler…

Kitabı okudukça bunu diyemiyoruz n
Güzel kitap. Günlük yaşama dair dramaturjik bakış; Bir tiyaro mu oynuyoruz her gün? Sahne ile kulis arasında mı koşuşturuyoruz? Bir sahnenin oyuncusu, bir diğerinin seyircisi miyiz?

Genel kabul görmüş ve yaygın bir görüş kesinlikle: “Dünya bir sahne.” Çoğumuz dünyaya herşeyi bilerek geldiğimizden dolayı (daha doğrusu her şeyi bilerek yetiştiğimizden) burada da bıyık altından gülmemiz doğal. Maskeli balo ve onun sahte yüzleri. Bunu görmüştük, bildiğimiz şeyler…

Kitabı okudukça bunu diyemiyoruz ne yazık ki. Goffman tiyatral kavramlardan yola çıkarak toplumsal gözlemlerini (Anglosakson toplumlarına dair gözlemler ve alıntılar ağırlıklı olarak), bireylerin – takımların günlük performanslarını bütün yönleriyle ele alarak, bize aktarıyor. Verdiği örnekleri, yaptığı çıkarımları okurken kendi gerçekleştirdiğiniz performansları da aklınıza getiriyorsunuz. (Hafif şaşkınlıklar ve onaylamalar ile birlikte)

Kitabı okuduktan sonra ne olabilir? İlki bundan sonra çevrenizde gerçekleşen performanslara karşı size bir farkındalık kazandırabilir. İkincisi günlük yaşamda etkileşim içerisinde iken, misal çalışırken ya da misafir ağırlarken, bir an sahnede olduğunuz aklınıza gelebilir. Susup, duraksayabilirsiniz. Belki gülümsersiniz. Sonra kaldığınız yerden devam edersiniz.


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Aya Al-Oballi

Feb 05, 2015

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“العالم، في حقيقة الأمر، حفل زفاف”
تلخيص/ مراجعة الكتاب -بالعربي – ضمن مشروع سطرين
http://satrein.com/project/the-presen…

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Heidy

May 27, 2007

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Great book for those interested in social interactions. After reading it, it will force you to consciously consider why people behave the way they do, or why you yourself do. Be forewarned, it will disappoint your view of mankind as well. You come to recognize that humans are often limited by how they believe others perceive of them. It’s definitely a book that will leave you seeking a higher reason for living, which in the end is a pretty good thing. 🙂

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Данило Судин

Jul 04, 2018

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Shelves:
soc-theory ,
social-sciences ,
symbolic-interactionism

Соціальна взаємодія опирається на уявлення учасників один про одного. Проте як ці уявлення конструюються? І чому ми віримо одним презентаціям себе та не віримо іншим? Якраз про це і йдеться в книзі Ірвінґа Ґофмана “Представлення себе в повсякденному житті”. Ласкаво запрошую перегляду! https://youtu.be/HqpzNLLvo9o

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Anthony Buckley

Feb 24, 2009

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anthropology

I always felt that the reason so few sociologists took up Goffman’s ideas was that they (the sociologists)were not good enough. I certainly felt this myself for about twenty years, and even when I did begin to use his ideas, it was in fear and trembling. Goffman was a phenomenon. The Presentation of Self is particular book was a real tour de force, probably his best book, though the later ones are wonderful too. Its central theme is familiar enough from Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage” –
I always felt that the reason so few sociologists took up Goffman’s ideas was that they (the sociologists)were not good enough. I certainly felt this myself for about twenty years, and even when I did begin to use his ideas, it was in fear and trembling. Goffman was a phenomenon. The Presentation of Self is particular book was a real tour de force, probably his best book, though the later ones are wonderful too. Its central theme is familiar enough from Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage” – but it is executed with great finesse and intelligence. Goffman is perhaps the greatest of the twentieth century sociologists.
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Roy Lotz

Jun 08, 2013

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My favorite part of this book is the cover. The presentation of the book in everyday life.

My second favorite part of this book is the author’s name, which is fun to say repeatedly in foreign accents.

My third favorite part of this book was the body of the work itself, which is, indeed, brilliant, and contains innumerable insightful gems for the social scientist or layman. The book is propelled along by an array of interesting examples taken from sociology, ethnography, literature, and philosophy.
My favorite part of this book is the cover. The presentation of the book in everyday life.

My second favorite part of this book is the author’s name, which is fun to say repeatedly in foreign accents.

My third favorite part of this book was the body of the work itself, which is, indeed, brilliant, and contains innumerable insightful gems for the social scientist or layman. The book is propelled along by an array of interesting examples taken from sociology, ethnography, literature, and philosophy. His analyses are interesting, compelling, and (for me at least) ring true. Now, every time I encounter somebody working behind a desk or a counter in a professional situation, I think about how they might act in the back room, cursing annoying customers and telling lewd jokes.

In every brain is stored manifold masks, masks that we take off and put on effortlessly, unconsciously. Embarrassment occurs when we use the wrong mask, or something slips through our disguise. These are the moments when we realize we are even wearing a mask, moments that Goffman uses to expose the entire system of misrepresentation.

We are used to assuming that misrepresentation is morally questionable, perhaps wrong. But ponder this: how would society be possible if people weren’t willing to suppress some aspects of themselves, and emphasize others. How would society function if lying wasn’t used to smooth interactions between co-workers, spouses, siblings, and friends? In fact, untruths are the grease in the engine of society. Every interaction skates along on the slippery ice of falsity.

In Nietzsche’s words, “It is nothing more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than semblance; it is, in fact, the worst proved supposition in the world.”

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Fred R

Aug 28, 2011

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I have met people who didn’t seem to have a “backstage.”

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Krista Danis

Jun 21, 2011

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Contrary to many of the reviews listed, I think Goffman’s examination of social interaction as presentation is increasingly relevant in the consumer/citizen, capitalist culture we have created for ourselves in the Western, developed world. The performances we offer now are less representative and more detatched from a possible truth than the more romanticized presentations considered by Goffman.

Influenced, in part, by the work of Simone De Beauvoir, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life draw
Contrary to many of the reviews listed, I think Goffman’s examination of social interaction as presentation is increasingly relevant in the consumer/citizen, capitalist culture we have created for ourselves in the Western, developed world. The performances we offer now are less representative and more detatched from a possible truth than the more romanticized presentations considered by Goffman.

Influenced, in part, by the work of Simone De Beauvoir, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life draws from and contributes to postmodern theories of identity and self. His ideas create discomfort for his reader because they undermine the very notion of authenticity that individuals cling to. I am reminded of Judith Butler’s epic contribution, Gender Trouble. Assuredly, Goffman’s preliminary examination contributed to her more intense theory on gender presentation and the idea that we are all performing gender, a stage which is not solely reserved for transgendered or GLTB communities.

Goffman, however, does not completely ignore the emotional dissonance the masquerade causes. A few times throughout the book, particularly in his discussion on the “backstage,” he allows the performer time to reconnect with his “natural” state, noting, “And to the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he imself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others” (236).
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Friedrich Mencken

Oct 18, 2013

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Shelves:
postmodernism-and-academic-politics

Structuralist extremism that rejects the very existence of self.
Identifies the equivalent of self as the total mass of masks worn in the different roles played throughout life i.e. the sum of social encounters one has had thus far. This also means the self is in a state of perpetual change depending on the “casting” of life or in other words the social situations creates the very essence of man and thus conceptualizes his being “through the eyes of the other”. It is impossible according to Goffm

Structuralist extremism that rejects the very existence of self.
Identifies the equivalent of self as the total mass of masks worn in the different roles played throughout life i.e. the sum of social encounters one has had thus far. This also means the self is in a state of perpetual change depending on the “casting” of life or in other words the social situations creates the very essence of man and thus conceptualizes his being “through the eyes of the other”. It is impossible according to Goffman to even perceive of oneself as a human being unless in a social context. Uses theatre metaphors and numerous everyday social situations to give common sense credence to his socialist creationism.


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Billie Pritchett

Apr 12, 2013

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sociology ,
self

Perhaps the reason TV and film depicting human drama is so appealing is because these depictions are in idealized form imitations of certain impression that people wish to convey in everyday life. Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life explores the idea that even though dramatic TV and film might be cases of art imitating life, it might be helpful thinking of ourselves as actors on a social stage with respect to our jobs and public lives. To varying degrees, we are trying to mana
Perhaps the reason TV and film depicting human drama is so appealing is because these depictions are in idealized form imitations of certain impression that people wish to convey in everyday life. Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life explores the idea that even though dramatic TV and film might be cases of art imitating life, it might be helpful thinking of ourselves as actors on a social stage with respect to our jobs and public lives. To varying degrees, we are trying to manage the impression everybody has of us in our different social rules.

Take, say, a teacher. A teacher is always performing his or her role qua teacher in a specific setting, either office, classroom, or in public, in a certain manner, managing or failing to manage his or her appearance as the apotheosis of that role, and trying to define the situation in the classroom environment or elsewhere in a certain way, hopefully one that would foster learning. A teacher, in addition to having the front stage role in the classroom, has a kind of back stage role with conversing with other teachers, strategizing how to better manage, seeking solidarity and support from other teachers, etc. And then there is the off stage time, when a teacher goes to eat at Burger King, say, or just sits at home. In instances when a teacher is seen at, for example, Burger King, or anywhere in public, it might come as a shock to students, since this is a situation when the performer is not occupying the role one of the audience members (the students) know them in.

I have mixed feelings about this book, as I do with a lot of theoretical social science, since in a way the analysis is little more than common sense. Nevertheless perhaps it is helpful to make these kinds of conceptual distinctions because for me, at the very least, it helps me to see them in a different light, even if the terrain is quite familiar. Not a bad book.
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Kevin Flynn

Aug 19, 2014

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I think this is a great book to explain the way that people carry themselves in the world. This book is the great grand daddy to Daniel Pink, Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell and many other social-esque authors. This book explains wonderfully how perception is a mask we wear, a color we paint in, a lock box we hide our true selves in. People see only what we allow them to see. I wrote my Senior Seminar dissertation on this book. It was a great read….might be re reading it soon with the way F
I think this is a great book to explain the way that people carry themselves in the world. This book is the great grand daddy to Daniel Pink, Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell and many other social-esque authors. This book explains wonderfully how perception is a mask we wear, a color we paint in, a lock box we hide our true selves in. People see only what we allow them to see. I wrote my Senior Seminar dissertation on this book. It was a great read….might be re reading it soon with the way Facebook shows how people mask and unmask themselves through different social cues.
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Erin Reilly-Sanders

Feb 20, 2011

rated it
it was ok

Shelves:
abandoned ,
adult ,
non-fiction

I like the idea of the metaphor of presenting self as acting a part upon a stage and Goffman’s extension of this metaphor but it eventually breaks down and applies only well only to institutions. It’s ideas are also very dated so I would recommend reading scholars who have built upon Goffman’s work rather than Goffman. As an alternative to struggling through this thing, the wikipedia page on dramaturgy is pretty good and links to http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/NEWPRE/CULT9… which is an excellent sum
I like the idea of the metaphor of presenting self as acting a part upon a stage and Goffman’s extension of this metaphor but it eventually breaks down and applies only well only to institutions. It’s ideas are also very dated so I would recommend reading scholars who have built upon Goffman’s work rather than Goffman. As an alternative to struggling through this thing, the wikipedia page on dramaturgy is pretty good and links to http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/NEWPRE/CULT9… which is an excellent summary.
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Alexandra

Jul 27, 2010

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This is a highly insightful book on the performative nature of social interactions. It also reveals the severe restrictions on acceptable middle class behavior in the 1950s. Accessible and engaging and you don’t have to be a sociology nerd to enjoy it.

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Joe Juarez

Dec 09, 2012

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it was amazing

I think this book served as a huge reminder that people act in different ways depending on the audience. The audience could be friends, family members, classmates, teachers, or coworkers. Each audience changes, meaning that the performer has to change too.

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Liz

Jan 17, 2012

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it was amazing

I was assigned this in a drama class and although I dropped out of the class, hung onto the book as a “to-be-read”. Finished it late in life and kicked myself for it. Offers invaluable insight on behaviour and perception.

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Greg

Apr 18, 2007

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it was amazing

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review of another edition

Recommends it for:
anyone

Great book on how people create images of who they are, and how interpersonal communication is inherently dramatic in form.

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Nana

Jun 15, 2009

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my handbook when I finished my thesis.
this book is kind of manual of life.

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Ben

May 17, 2012

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An excellent look at social interactions, bringing us the notion of dramaturgical analysis. All the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote.

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Shagun Tripathi

Oct 28, 2018

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Shelves:
sociology

Goffman’s profound influence on micro-sociology originates from this book in which he advances ideas from his doctoral dissertation. He is credited for the birth of “dramaturgical analysis” which observes human interactions in context of their time, place and audience. The focal theme of this reading section is the “dramaturgical act”: a social act that is designed to be seen by others, aimed at improving one’s image, gaining success if the audience believes that the character they see actually
Goffman’s profound influence on micro-sociology originates from this book in which he advances ideas from his doctoral dissertation. He is credited for the birth of “dramaturgical analysis” which observes human interactions in context of their time, place and audience. The focal theme of this reading section is the “dramaturgical act”: a social act that is designed to be seen by others, aimed at improving one’s image, gaining success if the audience believes that the character they see actually possesses the attributes she appears to possess. Goffman defines two extremes of the performer’s belief in her own act: one where she has no belief in her own act (a cynic) and the other who is fully taken in by the act (sincere). He also explains that actors undergo a cycles of “disbelief-to-belief” in which their conviction in their act varies.

It is interesting how Goffman presents face-to-face interactions as capable of being framed as a subject of study in sociology through “dramaturgical analysis”.

1.Front: A fixed, standard part of the individual’s performance through which the actor claims to possess characteristics, divided into a) setting, which is the physical layout b) appearance, the actor’s temporary state and c) manner, which predicts the actor’s role & response in an oncoming situation.

2.Dramatic Realization: The actor infuses meanings she wishes to convey into the activity performed. It may involve making the cost of one’s role apparent (i.e. visible expression of diligence, skill, attention etc. involved in the act), but raises the problem of “expression vs. action” where effective showing consumes energy, leaving little for conducting the action itself.

3.Idealization: Presenting a performance of the self that exemplifies officially accredited values of the society, which may not be true of the individual’s overall behaviour.

4.Misrepresentation: The sign-accepting tendency of an audience may lead to: a) the actor being misunderstood or b) the audience being misled or duped. This is because the audience regards signs to carry greater meaning than sign-vehicles (actions). It is not difficult to find examples of misrepresentation around us today.

5.Reality and Contrivance: While unintentional acts are taken for reality and constructed actions are judged as contrivance, Goffman says that such extremes are not true, highlighting the paradox that “life itself is a dramatically enacted thing” where “anticipatory socialization” assists the individual in his daily affairs.

Goffman exposes us to the very minute social interactions of daily life and I am intrigued by his perspective. Concluding with three comments: one that it would be interesting to discuss whether there are human interaction that do not involve performance, i.e. is there a self without the performance? Two, I recognize from experience that individuals may have to play more than one role or even conflicting roles that lead them to “juggle” their performances. Finally, I observe that he cites several philosophers (Sartre, Beauvoir) while Santayana has been frequently quoted, leading me to ponder on the overlapping nature of sociology with philosophy.
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artu

Feb 17, 2018

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Knjiga predstavlja sociolosku studiju – drustveni zivot kao pozornica.
Bavi se strukturom drustvenih susreta koji nastaju kad god se ljudi nadju u medjusobnom neposrednom fizickom prisustvu.
Autor sugerise da se svaka drustvena komunikacija temelji na odredjenim tehnikama predstavljanja i na odredjenim izvedbama. Uloga izrazavanja jeste stvaranje utisaka o sebi, izrazavanje u smislu komunikativne uloge koju pojedinac igra u drustvenoj interakciji.
Tokom interakcije sa drugima ponasa se kao glumac

Knjiga predstavlja sociolosku studiju – drustveni zivot kao pozornica.
Bavi se strukturom drustvenih susreta koji nastaju kad god se ljudi nadju u medjusobnom neposrednom fizickom prisustvu.
Autor sugerise da se svaka drustvena komunikacija temelji na odredjenim tehnikama predstavljanja i na odredjenim izvedbama. Uloga izrazavanja jeste stvaranje utisaka o sebi, izrazavanje u smislu komunikativne uloge koju pojedinac igra u drustvenoj interakciji.
Tokom interakcije sa drugima ponasa se kao glumac na pozornici, a svojim govorom, gestovima i odevanjem, predstavlja sebe kroz uloge. Glumac moze ili ne mora biti svestan svoje predstave, ili imati svoj cilj nastupa, ali publika uvek pripisuje znacenje toj predstavi i glumcu. Kada je iza scene, glumac se moze ponasati drugacije nego kada je pred publikom. Ovo je mesto gde pojedinac zaista dodje do sebe i oslobadja se od uloga koje igra kada je pred drugim ljudima.

Takodje pokazuje koliko duboko moralno prosudjivanje zadire u svakodnevni zivot i kako je tesko biti autsajder u bilo kakvoj situaciji ukoliko se ne pridrzavamo moralnih i drustveno prihvatljivih normi (moja prica otprilike ;P).

Iako je knjiga napisana pre skoro 60 godina mnogo toga i dalje stoji i ne menja se. Jedino je stil kojim je napisana suvoparan i teska je za citanje osim ak ste student sociologije, psihologije…;-)
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K. Fitzgerald

Jun 12, 2017

rated it
it was amazing

Shelves:
school-books ,
classic-reads

What can I say… the devil is in the detail, and Goffman is the master of the detail. Life is a theatre stage, social interaction is a performance, and the individual is a social construct… this explains selfie culture 🙂

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BellaGBear

Jun 10, 2017

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Shelves:
non-fiction ,
owned-books

Interesting book about why people act the way they do in different social settings.

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G

Feb 28, 2018

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A dense, brilliant book. The central thesis has pervaded thinking so much since it was written.

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Mskabatas

Feb 22, 2018

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Hepimiz bir sahnedeyiz ve hepimiz rol yapıyoruz. Bazen iyiyi bazen kötüyü oynuruz ana rol yapıyoruz.

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Eva Lucia

Jul 14, 2016

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Also posted on Eva Lucias blog

Erving Goffman’s sociological theory is important to mention, when one talks about the impact of social media. The focus of theory is social interaction; how the individuals portray themselves, and ‘the part of social life that occurs whenever two or more individuals are in one another’s response presence’ (Stones, 2008). Furthermore, Goffman presents a close analysis of ‘what people do when they [are] in the company of others, and of how those doings are understood
Also posted on Eva Lucias blog

Erving Goffman’s sociological theory is important to mention, when one talks about the impact of social media. The focus of theory is social interaction; how the individuals portray themselves, and ‘the part of social life that occurs whenever two or more individuals are in one another’s response presence’ (Stones, 2008). Furthermore, Goffman presents a close analysis of ‘what people do when they [are] in the company of others, and of how those doings are understood by participants’ (ibid.). Inspired by Durkheim and Simmel, Goffman focuses on three important things:

An interest in the central role of ideals and morality in social life; the attempt to formulate a fully sociological version of the individual person; and a concern to develop sociology as an empirical discipline rather than a speculative theoretical enterprise

Additionally, he “located the operation of morality and idealization not in the abstract entity of society, but in our everyday conduct in face-to-face-action (ibid.). The individuals play different roles adapted to the situation which they find themselves in, often depended on the type of people, and whether it is matter of private life, public life or the academic world. It is a sociological fact that we put on different roles depending on the surroundings. How we talk to our grandparents is usually not the same way we interact with our friends or online.

Certainly, it is also a known fact that we often imitate the actions of role models or idols, or adapt certain values or political opinions of the ones we respect. This mask we put on in different social environments is naturally connected to the way we wish other people to see us. This can be reflected in make-up or certain clothes, or the values, opinions or ways of behaviour. The two concepts frontstage (our appearance in a public space) and backstage (our appearance at home in a safe environment) are considered equally important, and the one cannot live without the other. Like the celebrities our identities are connected to different roles, but does this result in an unauthentic projection of the self, or is it just a natural action of the socializing human being?

Blog ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Youtube ~ Spotify
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Andrew

Apr 21, 2016

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Shelves:
sociology

The sort of anecdotal sociology that makes intuitive sense, using the highly influential metaphor of human-behavior-as-theater. While I would like some more data sets, some more thorough surveys, some more rigor, it’s still a fascinating set of hypotheses that could no doubt frame some interesting research, and no doubt has. As a non-sociologist, it’s more of an interesting way to examine daily interactions, and that’s how I employ it– to find a sociological explanation for my colleague being a
The sort of anecdotal sociology that makes intuitive sense, using the highly influential metaphor of human-behavior-as-theater. While I would like some more data sets, some more thorough surveys, some more rigor, it’s still a fascinating set of hypotheses that could no doubt frame some interesting research, and no doubt has. As a non-sociologist, it’s more of an interesting way to examine daily interactions, and that’s how I employ it– to find a sociological explanation for my colleague being a dick.
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Nicolás Rivas

Mar 03, 2015

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This book is dangerous. It threatens to distract you in the middle of any important social interaction as you suddenly feel the dramatic dimension of what you’re now experiencing. Then you become not only self-aware, but drama-aware, conscious of the stage you are in, what’s your part, where’s the audience, and how they interact according to the implicit rules of society. It is a joy to read, if maybe unnecessarily dense at some points; it may make you laugh but most of all it will make you real
This book is dangerous. It threatens to distract you in the middle of any important social interaction as you suddenly feel the dramatic dimension of what you’re now experiencing. Then you become not only self-aware, but drama-aware, conscious of the stage you are in, what’s your part, where’s the audience, and how they interact according to the implicit rules of society. It is a joy to read, if maybe unnecessarily dense at some points; it may make you laugh but most of all it will make you realise and reinterpret your social life. It is also a great book to read for anyone who loves fiction literature, and maybe even writers, as it gives you a whole new space in which to consider the dynamics of the players. Just beware: I’ve been gifted with a very bad memory, so I expect to forget the stage (although I’m so tempted to read it again), but smarter people may have to deal with a whole new set of distractions when present in society.
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Andy Oram

Oct 24, 2009

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I read this classic sociological text at the recommendation of a
friend, because I was researching identity online. The book was quite
useful to provide some frameworks for understanding the presentation
of self online. But it’s a rather distasteful work: personally, I
don’t see my entire life as a performance and everyone around me as an
audience as he wants me to do (he calls this attitude his
“dramaturgical perspective”). Furthermore, the book was published in
1959, just before the social revolution

I read this classic sociological text at the recommendation of a
friend, because I was researching identity online. The book was quite
useful to provide some frameworks for understanding the presentation
of self online. But it’s a rather distasteful work: personally, I
don’t see my entire life as a performance and everyone around me as an
audience as he wants me to do (he calls this attitude his
“dramaturgical perspective”). Furthermore, the book was published in
1959, just before the social revolution of the 1960s exploded the
expectations of formality it documents–all the aspects of proper
behavior, social distinctions, making a good impression, and so
forth. And Goffman is more chronicler than analyst, I’ve found. But
his categorizations and conclusions can still be helpful.

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Tyler

Dec 02, 2014

rated it
it was ok

Recommends it for:
High-status Persons
Recommended to Tyler by:
Book’s Reputation
Shelves:
non-fiction

This characterization of our self-presentation as analogous to a theatrical performance has a few interesting points to make, but the examples are dated and the social situations depicted often no longer occur or take place in a context of refinement not ordinarily encountered.

People who like this book might also like a literary treatment of exactly the same subject. For them I recommend The Damnation of Theron Ware: Or Illumination .

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Michael David

Sep 03, 2018

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Recently, I’ve overestimated my capabilities when it comes to finishing a book. I think my slowness has got to do with the type of book I’ve been reading: most of the books I recently finished involve heavy, cerebral topics that need a lot of analysis and digestion. For example, while Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow posited a novel theory of economics and psychology, Goffman’s work spoke about novel ideas in sociology and psychology.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was Goffman’s stat
Recently, I’ve overestimated my capabilities when it comes to finishing a book. I think my slowness has got to do with the type of book I’ve been reading: most of the books I recently finished involve heavy, cerebral topics that need a lot of analysis and digestion. For example, while Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow posited a novel theory of economics and psychology, Goffman’s work spoke about novel ideas in sociology and psychology.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was Goffman’s statement of how ALL people were actors performing in different stages. Even though he did not believe that all the world’s a stage, we are all players or actors. In fact, studies have pointed out that “we all act better than we know how.” This is relevant in relation to a study mentioned in Kahneman’s work, where people were inconsistent depending on the time of the day: we possess different facades depending on the milieu that we are in.

It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role . . . It is in these roles that we know each other; it is in these roles that we know ourselves. (p. 19)

I definitely love Goffman’s hypothesis regarding one’s presentation of self when one is alone. One of the ideas that allow us to be sane as human beings is our coherent perception of our selves.

He uses Santayana to posit our desire to act consistent with ourselves, with only our conscience as audience:

Under our published principles and plighted language we must assiduously hide all the inequalities of our moods and conduct, and this without hypocrisy, since our deliberate character is more truly ourself than than is the flux of our involuntary dreams … While still alive and subject, like all existing things, to the undermining flux of his own substance, he has crystallized his soul into an idea, and more in pride than in sorrow he has offered up his life on the altar of the Muses. Self-knowledge, like any art or science, renders its subject matter in a new medium, the medium of ideas, in which it loses its old dimensions and its old place. Our animal habits are transmuted by conscience into loyalties and duties, and we become “persons” or masks.

(p.57)

Even when we are alone, we seek to be self-consistent. The hypocrisy within oneself can be one of the causes of schizophrenia. Our performance, even when we are alone, must be consistent with what we believe in.

Of course, this is but part of the book. While I think it isn’t as impressive when it expands to social interaction, “team collusion,” or complaining about a non-existent character who is problematic within a group’s line of work is one of the ways that a team keeps its internal solidarity and avoiding breakdown. I definitely am a participant and an observer of this phenomenon.

Anyway, I can’t summarize a book as rich and as concise as this one. Everyone should read it, however. It is so insightful that it remains applicable even today.
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Chris

Jul 17, 2018

rated it
it was ok

I enjoyed this book and read it all the way through, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and I’ve given it a low rating because it was enjoyable but not great.

I like older academic books that haven’t reached the mainstream because I think there’s likely to be interesting stuff there that I haven’t heard before. This book fits that description – it’s one of the top 20~ sociology books of all time, but didn’t make so much of an impact that its ideas are a part of the cultural consciousness I d
I enjoyed this book and read it all the way through, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and I’ve given it a low rating because it was enjoyable but not great.

I like older academic books that haven’t reached the mainstream because I think there’s likely to be interesting stuff there that I haven’t heard before. This book fits that description – it’s one of the top 20~ sociology books of all time, but didn’t make so much of an impact that its ideas are a part of the cultural consciousness I don’t think – but it didn’t leave me with anything super interesting. The author examines the various social roles that people play, the way we present ourselves, through a dramaturgical lens. This idea wasn’t very interesting to me, but the book is full of lots of interesting anecdotes and observations, so it was entertaining.

I noticed that a lot of the other reviews on GoodReads seemed to be pretty wrong about this book. This book does instruct the reader about how to behave in social situations. The book is not cynical or judgmental regarding the roles that we play. The performance metaphor is just a metaphor, it’s not meant to connote an intentional deception (though that does occur). The author addresses this in the conclusion.
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Anne

Mar 10, 2015

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really liked it

A great book full of insights into the mechanism of interpersonal communications.

Since this book was published a long time ago, the writing style makes the concepts hard to digest. All the materials are pretty dense but well worth the time and effort to comprehend them fully.

Goffman claims that the desire to present a certain image of ourselves to other people is the real driving force behind our everyday interactions. Everything we do, we do to maintain the image/reputation which we want other
A great book full of insights into the mechanism of interpersonal communications.

Since this book was published a long time ago, the writing style makes the concepts hard to digest. All the materials are pretty dense but well worth the time and effort to comprehend them fully.

Goffman claims that the desire to present a certain image of ourselves to other people is the real driving force behind our everyday interactions. Everything we do, we do to maintain the image/reputation which we want others to perceive concerning us. We behave a certain way and say certain things depending on who we’re talking to and where our interaction is. And we tailor our behaviors/words according to how the others are responding. Basically, he believes we’re all actors putting on a show to an audience.

“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, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.” –William Shakespeare.

This is a different interpretation of social interactions from we are generally used to because Western culture tend to believe the self, our identiy/personality, is stable and inherent to each person.
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Josh

Apr 16, 2017

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I read this book as part of the literature in writing my master thesis. I applied Goffman’s “dramaturgy” framework in analyzing niche consumption practices. I found concepts of “fronts”, “idealization” and “defensive practices” useful, as they are the clear display of one’s everyday behavior, which students of sociology can readily learn a whole lot about the aptitudes of others just from observing those.

My favorite is the concept of “teams” where an individual’s self-presentation is often motiv
I read this book as part of the literature in writing my master thesis. I applied Goffman’s “dramaturgy” framework in analyzing niche consumption practices. I found concepts of “fronts”, “idealization” and “defensive practices” useful, as they are the clear display of one’s everyday behavior, which students of sociology can readily learn a whole lot about the aptitudes of others just from observing those.

My favorite is the concept of “teams” where an individual’s self-presentation is often motivated by a larger purpose – a team purpose which one tries to identify with. E.g. the upper class or the trendsettlers. Often times, these are the “puppet strings” that are unconscious but they shape our lives in very influential ways. Perhaps it is through critically understanding which teams we sign ourselves up for, consciously and unconsciously, and challenging those preconceived notions, that can free us from engaging in acts that do not amount to true happiness.
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Nicholas Whyte

Nov 04, 2017

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https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2897998.html

Goffman takes the theatre as his metaphor and calls attention to how, in their social interactions, human beings are often consciously (or sub-consciously) playing a role, using props such as clothes, tools, buildings, and performing to different audiences in different characters. It would be going too far to say that he has discovered the secret to understanding why everyone does everything, but the concept I think is a useful tool for unlocking partic
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2897998.html

Goffman takes the theatre as his metaphor and calls attention to how, in their social interactions, human beings are often consciously (or sub-consciously) playing a role, using props such as clothes, tools, buildings, and performing to different audiences in different characters. It would be going too far to say that he has discovered the secret to understanding why everyone does everything, but the concept I think is a useful tool for unlocking particular situations and conversations in terms of their setting and format as much as (or even instead of) their content. His observations of how the staff behave in Scottish hotels – very differently depending on whether they are in front of guests or not – were particularly interesting for any client-facing workers. The style is of course a bit dated now, but the material is very interesting.

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Alexander Smith

Jun 24, 2018

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This book presents a lot of interesting propositions by which an identity in everyday communication can be interpreted as identity construction. Certainly much of this is based in the time it was written. For example, the notions of marriage, the notions of work-life, and the bounds of “social” themselves have changed since this time. Somehow, still, the message is clear enough to resonate more than half a century later.

There are bits here that are really timely for those who are interested in s
This book presents a lot of interesting propositions by which an identity in everyday communication can be interpreted as identity construction. Certainly much of this is based in the time it was written. For example, the notions of marriage, the notions of work-life, and the bounds of “social” themselves have changed since this time. Somehow, still, the message is clear enough to resonate more than half a century later.

There are bits here that are really timely for those who are interested in social media communication at the present moment. This pairs very well with folkloric accounts of social media communication. This is not to say the metaphor is perfect for online and offline lives, but the metaphor holds enough to inspire more questions rather than raise serious doubts. This account is very believable and valuable to a social media scholar or people interested in folkloric social lives at the least.
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Samira

Sep 22, 2018

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Shelves:
philosophy-theory

پرسپکتیو نمایشی اولین بار توسط اروینگ گافمن بکار رفت و او صحنه، بازیگران و تماشاچیان تیاتر را استعارهای برای مشاهده و آنالیز مساله بغرنج روابط اجتماعی قرار داد. از این نگاه، شخص (خود) از قسمتهای گوناگونی تشکیل شده که افراد آن را بازی میکنند. کلید طلایی بازیگران اجتماعی در این است که خودهای مختلفشان را طوری به کار بگیرند تا بتوانند تاثیرات بخصوصی را بر تماشاچیان متفاوتشان خلق کرده و حفظ نمایند. ارتباطات بین افراد که توسط محیط و بازیگر انجام میگیرد، «پرفورمنس» است.
پرفورمنسی که ساخته شده تا دیگران

پرسپکتیو نمایشی اولین بار توسط اروینگ گافمن بکار رفت و او صحنه، بازیگران و تماشاچیان تیاتر را استعاره‌ای برای مشاهده و آنالیز مساله بغرنج روابط اجتماعی قرار داد. از این نگاه، شخص (خود) از قسمت‌های گوناگونی تشکیل شده که افراد آن را بازی می‌کنند. کلید طلایی بازیگران اجتماعی در این است که خودهای مختلفشان را طوری به کار بگیرند تا بتوانند تاثیرات بخصوصی را بر تماشاچیان متفاوتشان خلق کرده و حفظ نمایند. ارتباطات بین افراد که توسط محیط و بازیگر انجام می‌گیرد، «پرفورمنس» است.
پرفورمنسی که ساخته شده تا دیگران را به سمت هدف‌های مطلوب تحت‌تأثیر قرار دهد.
پرفورمنس از سوی خودِ معنایی فرد مگرد تایید نیست، چنانچه «خود شخص» فرد را در پرفورمنس به خاطر کمبود یا حتی فقدان وفاداری و درستی متهم می‌کند.
➖ مقصود از خواندن؛ دریافت راهی به سوی هویت برساخته‌ی افراد در فضاهای مجازی
سال مطالعه: ١٣٩۴

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Tiffany

Sep 29, 2016

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Recommends it for:
Sociology Students; People interested in Sociology

As a sociology student, this is not the easiest piece to read. However, if you can get past the way it was written, the reader is sure to learn a thing or two about identity.
Hoffman certainly makes it easier with the use of performances.

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CL Chu

Jul 03, 2018

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A classical functionalist analysis on the importance and process of dramatic performance in everyday (in fact, mainly in workplace and institutions) life. The overemphasis on rationalized behavior and the subsequent marginalization of the ambivalence, conflict, and power structure both in team and within individual who, as living creatures, is conditioned by various contradictory and unspeakable desire, biological impulse, and contingencies, are the major limitations of the book. Its largely unc
A classical functionalist analysis on the importance and process of dramatic performance in everyday (in fact, mainly in workplace and institutions) life. The overemphasis on rationalized behavior and the subsequent marginalization of the ambivalence, conflict, and power structure both in team and within individual who, as living creatures, is conditioned by various contradictory and unspeakable desire, biological impulse, and contingencies, are the major limitations of the book. Its largely uncritical altitude towards personal and social fronts conforming racial, gender, and class stereotype is similarly problematic. In summary, this is an old but informative book.
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Daniel Boyce

Mar 12, 2016

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it was amazing

This book goes through three individual stories/scripts. A breaking down and examination of each, environmental scenario as with regard to symbolism that occur in daily social interactions in a everyday life. Including distinctive daily social activity with interpretations of environmental symbolism meanwhile explaining the affect that it has on people. Written in a dynamic and easy to understand literature style, the book feels like a drama-art while reading. This book was the first of Goffman’
This book goes through three individual stories/scripts. A breaking down and examination of each, environmental scenario as with regard to symbolism that occur in daily social interactions in a everyday life. Including distinctive daily social activity with interpretations of environmental symbolism meanwhile explaining the affect that it has on people. Written in a dynamic and easy to understand literature style, the book feels like a drama-art while reading. This book was the first of Goffman’s book I have read. It has made me look at Erving Goffman as a thaumaturgy and left me excited to read more of his books.


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James Pickles

Mar 24, 2014

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I thought this was a very good read. I love the metaphor of a theatre to symbolise everyday social interaction; Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis made sense and had me relaying many experiences of my own life as patterned performances.

I don’t think this is very accessible to lay educated audiences though. Goffman isn’t the clearest of writers and I think he can become incredibly convoluted in parts often resulting in my reading several pages and having to re-read them in order to grasp at what he
I thought this was a very good read. I love the metaphor of a theatre to symbolise everyday social interaction; Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis made sense and had me relaying many experiences of my own life as patterned performances.

I don’t think this is very accessible to lay educated audiences though. Goffman isn’t the clearest of writers and I think he can become incredibly convoluted in parts often resulting in my reading several pages and having to re-read them in order to grasp at what he was saying.

If one looks at the time and context the book was written however this is understandable and is groundbreaking for sociological thinkers.
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Diana

Jan 08, 2017

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“In breve, poiché la realtà che interessa l’individuo è al momento imperscrutabile, bisogna che egli faccia affidamento sulle apparenze. E, paradossalmente, più l’individuo dà importanza alla realtà che non è percepibile, e più deve concentrare la sua attenzione sulle apparenze.
L’individuo tende a trattare i presenti sulla base delle impressioni che essi in quel momento danno per ciò che riguarda il loro comportamento passato e futuro. Perciò gli atti di comunicazione si traducono in atti morali

“In breve, poiché la realtà che interessa l’individuo è al momento imperscrutabile, bisogna che egli faccia affidamento sulle apparenze. E, paradossalmente, più l’individuo dà importanza alla realtà che non è percepibile, e più deve concentrare la sua attenzione sulle apparenze.
L’individuo tende a trattare i presenti sulla base delle impressioni che essi in quel momento danno per ciò che riguarda il loro comportamento passato e futuro. Perciò gli atti di comunicazione si traducono in atti morali. Le impressioni date agli altri tendono a essere trattate come pretese e promesse implicite e le pretese e le promesse tendono ad avere un carattere morale.”

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About Erving Goffman

Erving Goffman
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Erving Goffman (June 11, 1922 – November 19, 1982) was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.

Considered “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century” (Fine, Manning, and Smith 2000:ix), as a subjective analyst, Goffman’s greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical analysis that began with his 1959 book The Present
Erving Goffman (June 11, 1922 – November 19, 1982) was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.

Considered “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century” (Fine, Manning, and Smith 2000:ix), as a subjective analyst, Goffman’s greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical analysis that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Goffman’s other areas of study included social order and interaction, impression management, total institutions, social organization of experience, and stigmas. Some of the influences on his works include Durkheim, Freud, Mead, Radcliffe-Brown, and Simmel.

In 2007 Goffman was listed as the 6th most-cited intellectual in the humanities and social sciences by The Times Higher Education Guide, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Jürgen Habermas.[1]. Goffman was also named the 73rd president of the American Sociological Association. Goffman is more cited today from his books than during his time. Writers today use his ideas to examine the relationship between individual behavior and the reproduction of social systems.

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Books by Erving Goffman

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity
Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates
Interaction Ritual - Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior
Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience
Behavior in Public Places

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Quotes from The Presentation …

“And to the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others.”


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“In our society, defecation involves an
individual in activity which is defined as inconsistent with
the cleanliness and purity standards expressed in many of our
performances. Such activity also causes the individual to
disarrange his clothing and to ‘go out of play,” that is, to
drop from his face the expressive mask that he employs in
face-to-face interaction. At the same time ic becomes difficult
for him to reassemble his personal front should the need to
enter into interaction suddenly occur. Perhaps that is a
reason why toilet doors in our society have locks on them.”



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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.jpg

Cover
Authors Erving Goffman
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Subjects Social anthropology
Sociology
Social psychology
Publisher Anchor Books
Publication date
1959
Media typePrint ( Hardcover and Paperback )
Pages251
AwardsAmerican Sociological Association’s MacIver award (1961)
ISBN

978-0-14-013571-8

OCLC 59624504

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a 1956 sociology book by Erving Goffman , in which the author uses the imagery of the theatre in order to portray the importance of human social interaction; this would become known as Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis approach.

Originally published in Scotland in 1956 and in the United States in 1959, [1] it is Goffman’s first and most famous book, for which he received the American Sociological Association’s MacIver award in 1961. [2]

In 1998, the International Sociological Association listed the work as the tenth most important sociological book of the twentieth century. [3]

Contents

  • 1 Background and summary
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 Self-presentation theory
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Background and summary[ edit ]

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was the first book to treat face-to-face interaction as a subject of sociological study. Goffman treated it as a kind of report in which he frames out the theatrical performance that applies to face-to-face interactions. [4] He believed that when an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of him by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner. At the same time, the person the individual is interacting with is trying to form and obtain information about the individual. [5]

Goffman also believed that all participants in social interactions are engaged in practices to avoid being embarrassed or embarrassing others. This led to Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis . Goffman saw a connection between the kinds of acts that people put on in their daily life and theatrical performances.

In social interaction, as in theatrical performance, there is a front region where the performers (individuals) are on stage in front of the audiences. This is where the positive aspect of the idea of self and desired impressions are highlighted. There is also a back region, where individuals can prepare for or set aside their role. [6] The “front” or performance that an actor plays out includes “manner”, or how the role is carried out, and “appearance” including the dress and look of the performer. Often, performers work together in “teams” and form bonds of collegiality based on their common commitment to the performance they are mutually engaged in.

The core of Goffman’s analysis lies in this relationship between performance and life. Unlike other writers who have used this metaphor, Goffman seems to take all elements of acting into consideration: an actor performs on a setting which is constructed of a stage and a backstage; the props in both settings direct his action; he is being watched by an audience , but at the same time he may be an audience for his viewers’ play.

According to Goffman, the social actor in many areas of life will take on an already established role, with pre-existing front and props as well as the costume he would wear in front of a specific audience. The actor’s main goal is to keep coherent and adjust to the different settings offered him. This is done mainly through interaction with other actors. To a certain extent this imagery bridges structure and agency enabling each while saying that structure and agency can limit each other.

A major theme that Goffman treats throughout the work is the fundamental importance of having an agreed upon definition of the situation in a given interaction, which serves to give the interaction coherency. In interactions or performances the involved parties may be audience members and performers simultaneously; the actors usually foster impressions that reflect well upon themselves and encourage the others, by various means, to accept their preferred definition. Goffman acknowledges that when the accepted definition of the situation has been discredited, some or all of the actors may pretend that nothing has changed, provided that they find this strategy profitable to themselves or wish to keep the peace. For example, when a person attending a formal dinner – and who is certainly striving to present himself or herself positively – trips, nearby party-goers may pretend not to have seen the fumble; they assist the person in maintaining face . Goffman avers that this type of artificial, willed, credulity happens on every level of social organization , from top to bottom.

Since the metaphor of a theatre is the leading theme of the book, the German and consequently also the Czech translation used a fitting summary as the name of the book We All Play-Act (German: Wir Alle Spielen Theater, Czech: Všichni hrajeme divadlo), [7] apart from the names in other languages that usually translate the title literally. Another translation, which also builds on the leading theatrical theme, rather than the original title, is the Swedish title of the book Jaget och Maskerna which literally translates The self and the masks – A study of everyday-life drama.

Reception[ edit ]

Philosopher Helmut R. Wagner called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life “by far” Goffman’s best book and “a still unsurpassed study of the management of impressions in face-to-face encounters, a form of not uncommon manipulation.” [8] In 1998, the International Sociological Association listed The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life as the tenth most important sociological book of the twentieth century, behind Talcott Parsons ‘ The Structure of Social Action (1937). [3]

Self-presentation theory[ edit ]

The book proposed a theory of self which has become known as self-presentation theory and is still used by researchers in social media today, including Kaplan and Haenlein’s Users of the World Unite (2010), Belk’s Extended Self in a Digital World (2013), and Nell Haynes’s Social Media in Northern Chile: Posting the Extraordinarily Ordinary (2016). The theory suggests people have the desire to control the impressions that other people form about them.

See also[ edit ]

  • Impression management

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ Macionis, John J. & Gerber, Linda M. Sociology 7th Canadian ed. (Pearson Canada Inc., 2010) pg.11
  2. ^ Trevi-O, A. Javier (2003). Goffman’s Legacy . Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   9780742519787 .
  3. ^ a b “ISA – International Sociological Association: Books of the Century” . International Sociological Association. 1998. Archived from the original on 2014-03-15. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  4. ^ Smith, Greg (2006). Erving Goffman ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Hoboken: Routledge. pp. 33, 34. ISBN   978-0-203-00234-6 .
  5. ^ Trevino, James . Goffman’s Legacy (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003) pg.35
  6. ^ Ritzer, George . Sociological Theory (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008) pg.372
  7. ^ cs:Všichni hrajeme divadlo
  8. ^ Wagner, Helmut R. (1983). Phenomenology of Consciousness and Sociology of the Life-world: An Introductory Study. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press. p. 217. ISBN   0-88864-032-3 .

External links[ edit ]

  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life on Open Library at the Internet Archive
  • Works by Erving Goffman at Open Library

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