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SOC232H5 (25)

The presentation of self in everyday life.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Erik Schneiderhan

T HE P RESENTATION OF SELF IN E VERYDAY L IFE ERVING GOFFMAN  uses the imagery of the theatre in order to portray the importance of human social interaction  treat face-to-face interaction as a subject of sociological study  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  person the individual is interacting with is trying to form and obtain information about the individual  In social interaction, as in theatrical performance there is a front region where the “actors” (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  also a back region or stage that can also be considered as a hidden or private place where individuals can be themselves and get rid of their role or identity in society  core of Goffman's analysis lies in this relationship between performance and life; 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 is an audience for his viewers' play  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  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, in order to give the interaction coherency Belief in the Part one is playing  When someone plays a part, he asks his observers to take seriously the impressions that he puts forth o Observers supposed to believe the character they see actually possesses attributes that he appears to possess; matters are what they appear to be  Individual offers his performance and puts on his show “for the benefit of others”  On one end, it’s found that the performer can be fully taken in by his own act (convinced that the impression of reality which he stages is reality)  On the other end, the performer may not be taken in at all by his own routine o No one is in as good a observational position to see through the act as the person who puts it on o When an individual has no belief in his own act and no concern with the beliefs of his observers, he is cynical  Cynical individual can delude his audience for what he considers to be their own good; audience may not want them to be sincere  Two themes: 1)individual may be taken in by his own act or 2) be cynical about it o i.e. army recruit who follows etiquette to avoid physical punishment but eventually follows those rules so his organization and his officers won’t be ashamed of him  **cycle of disbelief-to-belief can be followed in the other direction, starting with conviction or insecure aspiration and ending in cynicism**  Person may attempt to induce audience to judge him and situation in particular way and he may seek judgment as an ultimate end in itself but may not believe that he deserves valuation of self which he asks for or that the impression of reality he puts forward is valid Front  ‘performance’- all activity of a person which occurs during period marked by his continuous presence before a set of observers and which has some influence on the observers  ‘front’- part of person’s performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed way to define situation for those who observe the performance o Front is the expressive equipment of a standard kind intentionally or unwittingly employed by individual during his performance  ‘setting’ – furniture, physical layout and other background items which supply the scenery and state props for the performance to take place on/at o Stays in one place so the person can’t begin their act until they bring themselves to that place and the act is terminated when they leave that place  ‘personal front’- other items of expressive equipment, items that we most intimately identify with the performer himself and that we naturally expect will follow performer where he goes; i.e. clothing, sex, racial characteristics  ‘personal front’ divided into ‘appearance’ and ‘manner’ o Appearance- refers to those stimuli which function at the time to tell us of the performer’s social statuses o Manner- refers to those stimuli which function at the time to warn us of the interaction role the performer will expect to play in the oncoming situation o Appearance and manner can contradict each other  Expect some coherence between setting, appearance and manner  Characteristic of information conveyed by the ‘front’- its abstractness and generality o However specialized and unique a routine is, its social front, with some exceptions, will tend to claim facts that can be equally claimed and asserted of other, somewhat different routines o
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