Credits, references, and bibliography
The Self (being and becoming throughout the life course)
"Erving Goffman (1922-1982) was a symbolic interactionist whose most recognized research extended the understanding of the self by using a dramaturgical metaphor. Following early symbolic interactionists, Goffman argues that the self is torn between the desire to act spontaneously and the desire to follow social expectations. According to the dramaturgical metaphor, individual attempts to follow social expectations are best understood as dramatic, or theatrical, performances. In these performances individual actors strive to convince others that they are indeed consistent and stable selves who play their social roles well. Extending the dramaturgical metaphor even further, Goffman argues that the social world is composed of front stages, back stages, and regions outside of either the front or back stage. The front stage is the social region where fixed, and socially recognizable performances unfold. The backstage includes spaces where performers are not observed by their audience and, as such, performers can reveal facts and engage in actions that might otherwise undermine the integrity of a front-stage performance. Outside regions are those regions that are neither a front nor a back. They are irrelevant to the performance. Although much symbolic interactionism emphasizes the creative role that individual actors play in interpreting and constructing their social world, Goffman also argues that front stages can become institutionalized and thereby impose roles and expectations upon individuals. This introduces an important structural element to Goffman’s symbolic interactionism."(1)
"Much of the activity in everyday social life includes efforts to present idealized images of self to others in front-stage performances. The attempt to maintain an ideal performance and to correct for threats to that performance is called impression management. One impression management technique is called mystification. In these cases, performers restrict the contact between themselves and their audiences in order to limit the chances that audiences will recognize errors in their performances. Finally, even in those cases where errors are evident in an actor’s performance, audiences regularly overlook or explain away these errors in order to keep the illusion of the performance alive. As such, Goffman underlines the symbolic interactionist point that social life is not merely composed of the actions of individuals, but depends upon the cooperation of teams of individuals."(1)
"Goffman also developed the concepts of role distance and stigma. Role distance describes the degree to which individuals separate themselves from the roles that they play. The term stigma describes the situation in which there is a gap between what a person ought to be and what a person actually is in social life. People are stigmatized when they are not able to play the social roles assigned by a society. For example, people who have lost their noses are not able to maintain the ideals of beauty that are generally expected in North America. While much of Goffman’s work on stigma describes the way that people with obvious stigma try to manage or hide their stigma, he also suggests that all people are stigmatized at some time and in some setting."(1)
"Recent research has analyzed Internet web pages using Goffman’s ideas on self-presentation. Go to a search engine on the Internet and type in the words “personal web page.” Find three personal web pages and study them. What are the different ways that people present information about themselves on the Internet (e.g., pictures, essays, connections to other friend’s websites)? Imagine a face-to-face interaction with a person and compare it to the interaction that you have with a person through an Internet web page. How are these interactions different from one another? Do you learn more about a person in face-to-face interaction or through the Internet? Review Goffman’s discussion of impression management and stigma. How is the management of personal stigma different on a web page than it is in face-to-face interaction? Are relationships deeper and richer in face-to-face interaction or through the Internet?"
Erving Goffman http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/goffmanbio.html (biography and review of Goffman’s life provided by Andreas Tueber at Brandeis University)
Much of this page comes from the "Instructor's Manual" to accompany Contemporary
Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics, Second Edition,
George Ritzer, Mcgraw-Hill, 2007. The Instructor's Manual was prepared by James
Murphy, University of Maryland, College Park and Todd Stillman, Fayetteville
State University. These excerpts are from chapter 6.
2. Ritzer, George. 2007/2010/2013. Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics. 2nd/3rd/4th editions. St. Louis: McGraw-Hill
Unless otherwise noted,
all pages within the web site http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/ © 2013 by
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