THE PRESENTATION OF SELF. 1. IN. EVERYDAY LIFE. ERVING GOFFMAN. University of Edinburgh. Social Sciences Research Centre. Price: Ten Shillings. File:Goffman Erving The Presentation of Self in Everyday hohounsmolathe.cf hohounsmolathe.cf (file. socio-economic status, his conception of self, his attitude toward them, his competence and reach our goals in everyday life either statistically or scientifically.
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Erving Goffman Presentation of Self in Everyday Life PDF - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. PDF | Goffman (,) has described how people negotiate and Goffman, E () The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life New York. PDF | This study examines the patterns and substance of student self In his landmark The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Irving.
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.
Howard Becker elaborates on this idea in his theory of labelling and deviance. If someone violates a particular rule it does not mean that they are deviant in other respects.
These factors in turn make it more difficult for the individual to conform to other rules which he or she had no intention of violating. The individual is placed in an increasingly untenable position in which it becomes increasingly likely they will need to resort to deceit and rule violation.
Merton as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Merton explains that with a self-fulfilling prophecy, even a false idea can become true if it is acted on. Because of this false notion, people run to their bank and demand all their cash at once. Reality is constructed by an idea.
The story line of a self-fulfilling prophecy appears in many literary works, perhaps most famously in the story of Oedipus. Oedipus is told by an oracle that he will murder his father and marry his mother. In going out of his way to avoid his fate, Oedipus inadvertently fulfills it.
Social interaction is in crucial respects symbolic interaction—interaction which is mediated by the exchange and interpretation of symbols. In symbolic interaction, people contrive to reach a mutual understanding of each other and of the tasks at hand through the exchange and interpretation of symbols.
Only on this basis can a coordinated action be accomplished. The process of communication is the central quality of the human social environment. Social interaction depends on communication. But our ideas are in fact nebulous. Moreover, it operates primarily based on indications or gestures of meaning that call out responses in others.
Herbert Blumer clarifies the three parts of this communication processes as follows. Ones own and the others actions are symbolic in that they refer beyond themselves to meanings which call out for the response of the other: a they indicate to the other what they are expected to do, b they indicate what the speaker plans to do, and c on this basis they form a mutual definition of the situation that indicates how a joint action will be agreed upon, carried out, and accomplished.
A robber tells a victim to put his or her hands up, which indicates a what the victim is supposed to do i. In this model of communication, the definition of the situation, or mutual understanding of the tasks at hand, arises out of ongoing communicative interaction. Situations are not defined in advance, nor are they defined by the isolated understandings of the individuals involved. They are defined by the indications of meaning given by participants and the responses by the others.
Even the most habitualized situations involve a process of symbolic interaction in which a definition of the situation emerges through a mutual interpretation of signs or indications. In this conversation, how do the body gestures indicate the meaning of what is being said. If possible, record it or write it out. How was your conversation a joint action in the sense defined by Mead and Blumer? How would you define the joint action you accomplished in this conversation e.
Compare a recent joint action you were involved with at home, at work, or in a recreational setting that failed i. Did you or someone else fail to express their intentions clearly? Did the others fail to interpret the intentions correctly? Was the definition of the situation unclear or ambiguous? In what way was your conversation a conversation of indications or gestures? In what way did the conversation unfold according to your initial intention or your initial opinion about things i.
On the other hand, in what way did you have to modify your line of conversation as a result of the responses of the other person, and vice versa?
In what way was the course, meaning, or content of the conversation socially determined through the process of conversation itself? What does this imply for the social nature of conversation and language? Is it ever possible to refer to fixed meanings or already existing definitions of the situation in particular social settings? How was your conversation a symbolic interaction?
Roles and Status As you can imagine, people employ many types of behaviours in day-to-day life. Roles are patterns of behaviour expected of a person who occupies particular social status or position in society.
Currently, while reading this text, you are playing the role of a student. Some statuses are ascribed—those you do not select, such as son, elderly person, or female. Others, called achieved statuses, are obtained by personal effort or choice, such as a high school dropout, self-made millionaire, or nurse.
As a daughter or son, you occupy a different status than as a neighbour or employee. One person can be associated with a multitude of roles and statuses. If too much is required of a single role, individuals can experience role strain.
Consider the duties of a parent: cooking, cleaning, driving, problem solving, acting as a source of moral guidance—the list goes on.
Similarly, a person can experience role conflict when one or more roles are contradictory. A parent who also has a full-time career can experience role conflict on a daily basis.
When there is a deadline at the office but a sick child needs to be picked up from school, which comes first? When you are working toward a promotion but your children want you to come to their school play, which do you choose?
Being a college student can conflict with being an employee, being an athlete, or even being a friend. Our roles in life have a great effect on our decisions and on who we become. All we can observe is behaviour, or role performance.
In this sense, individuals in social contexts are always performers. The focus on the importance of role performance in everyday life led Erving Goffman — to develop a framework called dramaturgical analysis.
He recognized that people played their roles and engaged in interaction theatrically, often following common social scripts and using props and costumes to support their roles.
For example, he notes that simply wearing a white lab coat brings to mind in the observer stock images of cleanliness, modernity, scrupulous exactitude and authoritative knowledge. Whether the perfume clerk was clinically competent or not, the lab coat was used to bolster the impression that he or she was. Today, even without the lab coats, an analogous repertoire of props, sets and scripts are used to convey the clean, clinical, and confidential tasks of the perfume clerk.
Perfume shop in Mumbai, India. Photo courtesy of monika.
Individuals project an image of themselves that, once proposed, they find themselves committed to for the duration of the encounter. Their presentation defines the situation but also entails that certain lines of responsive action will be available to them while others will not. It is difficult to change ones mode of self-presentation midway through a social interaction.
In either case, it commits the performer and the audience to a certain predictable series of events no matter what the content of the social encounter is. The audience of a performance is not passive however. The audience also projects a definition of the situation through their responses to the performer. In general, the audience of a performance tries to attune their responses as much as possible so that open contradiction with each other or the performer does not emerge. Goffman points out that this attunement is not usually a true consensus in which everyone expresses their honest feelings and agrees with one another in an open and candid manner.
Rather, it is more like a covert agreement, much like that in a theater performance, to temporarily suspend disbelief. Individuals are expected to suppress their real feelings and project an attitude to the performance that they imagine the others will find acceptable.
As everyone who has been in an awkward social situation knows, the stakes of mutual accommodation in social interactions are high. Events that contradict, discredit or throw doubt upon the performer threaten to disrupt the social encounter. When it happens, this results in a kind of micro-level anomie or normlessness, which is characterized by a general uncertainty about what is going to happen and is usually painful for everyone involved.
When these disruptive events occur, the interaction itself may come to a confused and embarrassed halt. Some of the assumptions upon which the responses of the participants had been predicated become untenable, and the participants find themselves lodged in an interaction for which the situation has been wrongly defined and is now no longer defined. At such moments the individual whose presentation has been discredited may feel ashamed while the others present may feel hostile, and all the participants may come to feel ill at ease, nonplussed, out of countenance, embarrassed, experiencing the kind of anomie that is generated when the minute social system of face-to-face interaction breaks down Goffman, Therefore the logic of social situations, whatever their particular content or participants, dictates that it is in the interest of the performer to control the conduct and responses of the others through various defensive strategies or impression management, while it is in the interest of the audience to accommodate the performance as far as is practicable through various protective practices e.
Social interactions are governed by preventative practices employed to avoid embarrassments. Moreover, because it can be unclear what part a person may play in a given situation, he or she has to improvise his or her role as the situation unfolds. Each situation is a new scene, and individuals perform different roles depending on who is present. How are you? It relies on a continuous process of mutual interpretation, of signs given and signs received.
Social reality is not predetermined by structures, functions, roles, or history but often draws on these in the same way actors draw on background knowledge and experience in creating a credible character. Front Stage and Back Stage Figure Erving Goffman — Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. A work meeting takes place in a board room for a specified period of time and generally provides the single focus for the participants. The same can be said for dinner in a restaurant, a ball hockey game or a classroom lecture.
Following his theatrical metaphor, Goffman further breaks down the regions of performance into front stage and back stage to examine the different implications they have for behaviour.
On the front stage the performer puts on a personal front or face , which includes elements of appearance—uniforms, insignia, clothing, hairstyle, gender or racial characteristics, body weight, posture, etc.
The front stage is where the performer is on display and he or she is therefore constrained to maintain expressive control as a single note off key can disrupt the tone of an entire performance.
A waitress for example needs to read the situation table by table in walking the tricky line between establishing clear, firm, professional boundaries with the paying clients, who are generally of higher status than her , while also being friendly, courteous and informal so that tips will be forthcoming. The back stage is generally out of the public eye, the place where the front stage performance is prepared. The waitress retreats to the kitchen to complain about the customers, the date retreats to the washroom to reassemble crucial make-up or hair details, the lawyer goes to the reference room to look up a matter of law she is not sure about, the neat and proper clerk goes out in the street to have a cigarette, etc.
The back stage regions are where props are stored, costumes adjusted and examined for flaws, roles rehearsed and ceremonial equipment hidden—like the good bottle of scotch—so the audience cannot see how their treatment differs from others. There is no single self. The self is just a collection of roles that we play out for different people in different situations. Think about the way you behave around your coworkers versus the way you behave around your grandparents versus the way you behave with a blind date.
Back stage or front stage, the self is always an artifact of the ongoing stratagems of accommodation and impression management involved in the social interaction with particular persons. The self is essentially a mask. It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. The Individual and Society Figure The individual and society.
This way of thinking is what Goffman called the schoolboy attitude: the idea that we make our way in life and establish our identity and our merits by personal effort and individual character Goffman, In this way of thinking, the individual is understood to be independent of external influences; as having a private subjective interior life of memories, impressions, feelings, fantasies, likes and dislikes that is his or hers alone.
The individual makes free, rational, and autonomous decisions between different courses of action and is therefore individually responsible for his or her decisions and actions, etc.