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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life part 1.docx

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Sociology 2234E
Lesley Harman

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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life The Presentation of Self In Everyday Life, was written by Erving Goffman. He discusses how individuals learn to present themselves in social situations in order to progress through life. This book is important as the primary essay for this course is based upon the material in the book. Students are required to use his terms and apply them to their own personal experience. In addition this book will be on the exam. Performance - Performance has to be believable - Individuals = are like actors, and the people they interact with = are like audience members. - We learn from a young age the code, the shared meanings that go along with the material culture. We as a society have shared symbols that make communication possible. One example that was used in class was a pair of rainbow earrings. These earrings may be a code symbolizing that the wearer is a lesbian. What is important about these symbols/code is that the audience has to be able to understand it. There must be a shared meaning. Externals VS. Internals - Transparency is important in our everyday life. - We want to have it in out interactions. - We want people to be who they say they are - Simmel – made the distinction between externals and internals - EXTERNALS= are something that we can see - INTERNALS = are things that are there that we cannot see What makes someone a professor? - we know who the professor is by the way that they are dressed, and the actions they take; those are externals. - An Internal would be something like tenure. We cannot see it but we know it exists. Power - There is no performance that does not rely on power. - Those with more power have less rules that apply to them. Tenured professors for example do not have to adhere to a strict dress code. We want our performance to be seamless. We tend to idealize the performance that means we must conceal any actions that are inconsistent with the standards of the performance. Any errors we may make during a performance are immediately corrected. For example if you are out for dinner on a date, you want to appear put together and desirable. If you notice you have spinach in your teeth (that is something that may go against the image of being desirable) you would immediately find a (hopefully discrete) way of getting it out. Gender and Performance -Naomi Wolfe – Wrote a book called the Beauty Myth - She argues in this book that Bodywork (anything you do to get ready) is oppressing - Society tells
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