Presentation of self in everyday life by Erving Goffman

This book offers a succinct exploration on perceptions and images carried along by individuals on daily basis. The author attempts to unmask the kind of comedic aspects that human beings portray in everyday life. In particular, Goffman puts a strong belief in dramaturgical model of an individual’s social life which he equates to theatrical plays. Goffman educates his readership that human life is shaped by various components that are related to acting or theater. For example, an actor is surrounded by the audience, other actors, the props and scenario at hand. As such, actors have two major stages namely the front and the back stage.

Similar to acting, human beings evolve with age. For example, at an early age, behavior is shaped by various roles set out in society. However, human beings tend to get out of these roles as they grow and try to design other roles for themselves. Goffman equates the front stage to societal roles that are given to us at early stage.

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The front stage behavior is determined by the manner, setting and appearance of a person. In acting, cast members are capable of switching from one script to another. The same case happens in real life whereby situations are capable of determining the kind of behaviors and social life that a person will lead. The interaction aspect of a person is very important. In essence, it assists human beings to change their roles and course in life. In acting, interaction with the audience, actors and the prop is capable of molding us into particular style of acting. Therefore, acting is very crucial when it comes to building particular stereotypes in life which are then embraced by society.

The major theme in this book is that human beings ought to perceive real life as acting.

Relevance in modern society

Human beings do obtain help from others since none is independent. There is no way individuals can sustain themselves in life. We are all interdependent since every aspect of a person’s eye has an environment that needs socialization. Goffman equates this to acting whereby he emphasizes that an actor has his or her fellow actors, audience, props and the general situation. In life, a human being will require both direct and indirect inputs from other people like relatives, friends and workmates in order to be successful.

To begin with, it is imperative to note that any life component of a human being is a social actor. If the world is to become a better place to live, human beings should learn to live well with others. Just as it is in acting, if an actor does not socialize well with others, the general outcome of the whole play would not be pleasing. A play is like general life, and if various actors such as environmental objects, workmates, customers and by standers are not taken care of, life would not be effective.

If the future is to be bright for anyone, either in social or working life, socialization is very paramount. The basic point is that for a well built future, the presentation of self must be well thought about. Everyday life involves meeting others, using tools, talking with customers and other people. Therefore, it is important to always think about the probable future if one is to ignore the inputs of others. As well, it is proper to compare the ignorance with fortunes that would come with socialization with life actors. Goffman introduces the concept of front and back stage behaviors. According to the author, front stage behaviors in relation to a field of acting are the behavior depicted during real acting. That is, when an actor is facing the audience during real acting, it is highly likely to confine oneself to particular demeanor.

The latter is intended to portray certain characteristics of a person, and is usually well thought out. On the other hand, the back stage behavior is a kind of behavior that is done when one is alone or in the company of few people. In acting, this behavior is characterized by changing of scripts, regular and haggling about the props and settings that would be used.

Usually, the audience does is not enlightened of this development. Hence, modern life is characterized by these two behaviors whereby there are both hidden and open developments. The bottom line is that there is need to strike a balance between these two characteristics. The front stage behavior should correlate well with the back stage behavior.

Importance of impression management in today’s society

Impression management is defined as a process that is used by people in controlling impressions and perceptions about others. It involves personal branding whereby individuals are given titles and images that may be true or false. An ideal impression management may attempt to paint a picture of how desires are to be viewed by others. Hence, it is important to put oneself in the kind of cycle one would like to be in. This assists in shaping ideal impressions of other people in social life. This kind of authenticity gives room to individuals to behave in a way that is consistent with personality and daily image. Moreover, it entails disclosing some information about oneself in an effort to put strong an authentic brand. Managing impression is an important component in self presentation in an individual’s social life.

In essence, people have revolted to employing this tact for the sole purpose of putting a strong self image. First, impression management plays an important part in self presentation of a person and enhancing a positive image in the eyes of others. It is like a symbolic interaction theory that was coined by Goffman Erving in 1959. The bottom line is that impression management has the capacity to put a well thought image of a person for the sole purpose of painting a favorable image of a person in the eyes of others. More importantly, it is a fundamental component in life that revolves around various influential factors. These factors may be attached to spiritual, cultural and social components. This can be corroborated with the teaching of Erving Goffman in his book on presentation of self in everyday life.

Therefore, if everybody was to work well, we would be capable of influencing positive life in the long run. In summing up, impression management is capable of curving strong social implications. Roles, values, statuses and norms cannot be built by mere assumptions.

Rather, these important aspects of life can only be built if one nurtures himself or her self well. Impression management is solely to determine how others view a person. The social implication of impression management is like good relations with people since it allows production of some favorable personas. Hence, it is important to emphasize on the importance of nurturing both the front and back stage as part of building an individual’s positive.


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