Erving Goffman's The Presentation Of Self In Everyday Life

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Erving Goffman is hailed by many as ‘one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable practitioners of social science’ (Smith, 2006:1). Smith goes on to further remark that Goffman‘s work is ‘enough to signify not only a subject matter but also a highly distinctive attitude and analytic stance toward the social world’ (Smith, 2006:1). This claim is perhaps justified when noting the alternative direction Goffman headed in his development of sociological theory in comparison to the founding fathers, Marx, Durkheim and Weber. This essay will consider and discuss Goffman’s concept of self and how this materialises as differing forms of a person social actor depending on the social context with reference to Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in…show more content…
A frame of mind must be developed incorporating the social and contextual norms the individual must, or thinks they must, adhere to whilst in the front stage state. Crucially, whilst Goffman acknowledges this can be seen a vastly individualistic and personal process, wherein constructing the front stage an individual may become more familiar with their own back stage, he argues the exact opposite is often taking place. The construction of a professional self, or front stage, is often seen to be happening in large groups of people within particular professional environments- ‘Within the walls of a social establishment we find a team of performers who co-operate to present to an audience a given definition of the situation’ (Goffman, 1990: 231). The staff in a hotel, for example, work whilst working on individual tasks to maintain the hotel, are also seen as working together to provide single, unified performance, irrespective of the social status of their own occupational level (Goffman, 1990:84). Similar to an onstage performance at the theater, the actors involved do not maintain the act full time. Goffman used the term 'regions' (Goffman, 1990:139) to explain the transitional stages between the front and back stage, or the professional and person…show more content…
Importantly, when considering Goffman's 'The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life' and attempting to understand and apply his interpretation to 'Everyday Life' it is crucial to factor in the commonly accepted ideas of the twenty first century around the idea of fluidity in existence in social situations (Dunn, 200: 113). This compliments Goffman's ideas of the front and back regions and the transitional phases between the two being dependent on contextual indicators. Goffman’s portrayal of the self as a feature governed by the contextual norms and values of a given society; an unfixed, undetermined object, adheres to the idea of the fluid

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