Goffman Essay

1980 words - 8 pages

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”Student of sociology, believe Erving Goffman could easily claimed to have made that statement just as Shakespeare is given due. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life details dramaturgy or as Goffman himself relates, “The Perspective employed in this report is that of the theatrical performance…” (Preface, p. xi). Using theater metaphors Goffman wanted to analyze frame by frame the organization of the social experience. He created a framework, a common sociological language, to conceptualize social interactions and thus authored influential work producing deeper intellectual inquiry, academic discussion, and social science development. Through critical review, Goffman’s book reveal its core concept plus consider how his influential paradigm, the dramaturgical perspective maybe placed in the terms of sociological discussions within the discipline.
The book surveys a host of social exchanges whereby the author demonstrates that we in our everyday lives participate in performances of ourselves in ways similar to actors depicting characters. Essentially to Dr. Goffman, it is acting -the presentation of oneself - whether recognized as such by individuals involved or not He begins quoting George Santayana in an exploration of mask. In chapter one, entitled “Performances,” the theatrical lens starts the analysis. He relays sociologist, Robert Ezra Park’s concept, “We come into the world as individuals, achieve character, and become persons” (p.20). These examples and all other pertinent information supporting his thesis are registered through theater. Previewing the book, one may predict that it tells only of theater yet upon reading the author quickly grounds the discussion in social science. He explains, as a sociologist that dramaturgy, a structure to see the world through dramatic elements, “provides a clear-cut dimension for formal sociological analysis” (p.15)
Knowing this framework, it is easy than to understand the model the book uses to make its case for interpretive analysis of social interactions. Thinking connections between every day socializing and stagecraft provide context for building this case of investigation. Presentations are dissected through concepts such as front, misrepresentation, idealization, dramatic realization, along with other dramatic ideas. In the segment, “Reality and Contrivance,” Goffman clearly joins his supporting details to build his main idea when he writes, “ Socialization may not so much involve a learning of the many specific details of a single concrete part…the legitimate performances of everyday life are not “acted” or “put on” … As in the case of less legitimate performers… [it] does not mean that he will not express himself through these devices in a way is dramatized …” (p.73 – 74). Essentially, the case is made that these...

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