Gidden and Goffman

Topics: Sociology, Existentialism, Anxiety Pages: 4 (1141 words) Published: October 3, 2010
Gidden and Goffman literature review

Giddens, A, 1991. ‘The self: Ontological security and the existential anxiety’ Chapter 2 from modernity and self identity. Self and society in the late modern age, Cambridge: Polity Press.


Goffman, E. 1959. ‘Performances’ chapter 1, from the presentation of self in everyday life. London: penguin.

Identity in a sociological sense is more than individual genetics or individuality. Self identity is made up by many characteristics including; our personal experiences, beliefs, socio-economic status and other factors. Society plays a huge role in determining identity, although true identity generally isn’t a true reflection of an individual’s self identity. Over the generations there have been numerous sociologists who have given their opinions and theories as to what identity entails, No theory is entirely correct, but more often than not, individuals can relate to certain areas of different theories and adopt that particular sense of identity. In the case of Gidden and Goffman, it is obvious that they both have completely different theories and beliefs as to what identity is and how identity is established.

Giddens reading, “The self: Ontological security and the existential anxiety”, describes an individual as identifying themselves simply by continuation of existence and being mentally stable. He also states that self identity is a generic phenomenon where individuals identity is based on their actions and continuation to create reflective activities, “It is what the individual is conscious ‘of’ in the term ‘self consciousness’. Self identity in other words, is not something that is just given, as a result of the continuities of the individual’s action system, but something that has to be routinely created and sustained in the reflective activities of the individual”. [Giddens p52]

Giddens refers to ontological security as a sense of order and continuity in regard to an individual’s experiences. According...
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