Erving Goffman

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Topics: Sociology
Erving Goffman
Every day we meet and come in contact with many different people. Some of these people we know very well and some we don’t. We act a certain ways so they perceive us the way we want them to or at least enough so that we can get the good, service, companionship or whatever we wish to receive from them. We say something and see how they react with comments and body language so we know how to continue our interaction with them. We use are perception of norms and internal and external influences as well as cultural influences to determine how to continue the conversation (Williams, 1986). While we may not know we are even doing this many people have spent a lot of time studying this behavior and its effects. Erving Goffman is one of those people who believed we react based on the reactions of others, we act differently depending on who we are around and how we want them to view us, and we then use these reactions to set standards and norms for future situations when we come across them on the stage we call life.
Goffman believed in symbolic integrationists which is how people make sense of interactions in specific situations (Vissing, 2011). He uses the example of theater to stress the importance of human social action and interaction. He believed that the world was a stage and that everyone was an actor on it at one time or another. The performance was the activity that someone did in front of an audience that was watching the actors every move. The delivery method and the material that an actor would present would give information and identity about the actor’s character (Crossman, 2012). A real actor knows that they are on stage and being watched but in real life a person may not always know that they are being observed or that people are always defining other people that they see around them by their actions and mannerisms. In today’s life and times this stage could be in person or on the internet. With the use of social media like



References: Crossman, A. (2012). The Presentation of Self in Every Day Life. Retrieved from: http://sociology.about.com/od/Works/a/Presentation-Of-Self-Everyday-Life.htm Smith, G. (2005). Enacted Others: Specifying Goffman’s Phenomenological Omissions and Sociological Accomplishments. Human Studies Vol. 28, No.4 Oct. 2005), pp. 397-415 Vissing, Y. (2011). Introduction to Sociology. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from: https://content.ashford.edu Williams, S. (1986). Appraising Goffman. The British Journal of Sociology. Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 348-369

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