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Analysis Of 'the Presentation Of Self In Everyday Life'

1068 words - 5 pages

Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life provides a detailed description and analysis of process and meaning in everyday interaction. Goffman writes from a symbolic interactionist perspective, emphasizing a qualitative analysis of the components of the interactive process. Through a sociological analysis he explores the details of individual identity, group relations, and the movement and interactive meaning of information. Goffman's perspective provides insight into the nature of social interaction and the psychology of the individual.Goffman employs a "dramaturgical approach" in his study, concerning himself with the mode of presentation employed by the actor and its ...view middle of the document...

As a "collective representation," the front establishes proper "setting," "appearance," and "manner" for the social role assumed by the actor, uniting interactive behavior with the personal front (27). The actor, in order to present a realistic front, is forced to fill the duties of the social role to communicate activities and the characteristics of the role to other people in a consistent manner. In constructing a front, information about the actor is given off through a variety of communicative sources, all of which must be controlled to convince the audience of the appropriateness of behavior. Believability, as a result, is constructed in terms of verbal signification, which is used by the actor to establish intent, is used by the audience to verify the honesty of statements made by the individual. Attempts are made to present an "idealized" version of the front, more consistent with the norms and laws of society than the behavior of the actor when not before an audience (35). Information dealing with aberrant behavior and belief is concealed from the audience in a process of "mystification," making prominent those characteristics that are socially approved. This legitimatizes both the social role of the individual and the framework to which the role belongs (67). Goffman also explores nature of group dynamics through a discussion of "teams" and the relationship between performance and audience. He uses the concept of the team to illustrate the work of a group of individuals who "co-operate" in performance, attempting to achieve goals sanctioned by the group (79). Co-operation may manifest in the assumption of differing roles for each individual, determined by the intent of the performance. Goffman refers to the "shill," a member of the team who "provides a visible model for the audience of the kind of response the performers are seeking," promoting excitement for the realization of a goal, as an example of a "discrepant role" in the team (146). In each circumstance, the individual assumes a front that is perceived to enhance the group's performance. As a result, disagreement can be carried out in the absence of an audience, where the performance changes and may be made without the threat of damaging the goals of the team or individual. This creates a...

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