SOC232H5 Chapter Notes -Erving Goffman, Military Recruitment

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Published on 14 Oct 2012
Belief in the Part one is playing
When someone plays a part, he asks his observers to take seriously the impressions that he puts
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
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
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