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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Paperback – December 1, 1990
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First caveat, I've not read any books by Talcott Parsons, or Manheim, and there were several sections in this book that were heavy enough in theory to make me give up. Despite these difficult sections, Goffman's style is breezy and interesting enough to make th is book worth reading for a layman.
Roughly, Goffman sets up a model of human interaction that takes most of its metaphors from the realm of theatrical performance. Human interaction takes place between performers and audiences, interactions happen front stage or back stage. This theatrical metaphor is joined by the idea that human actors interact in teams that share similar motives and values. He joins this "team" idea to the theatrical metaphor by emphasizing the difference between performers and audiences.
After laying out his framework, Goffman then uses examples from literature, his own research, and other researchers to illustrate his point. It is in this section that his writing can seem a bit dated. For example, he repeatedly discusses how college educated women will "play dumb" for their boy friends. I'm not saying this doesn't (still) happen, but the example could use somet updating.
One of the main insights that I took away from this excellent book is that humans largely exist as social beings through their interactions with other creatures, and the idea of a person as an "individual" is, itself, largely a construct.Read more ›
Entry into a tight social circle, according to Goffman, requires "wearing a look" to avoid betraying his true stance. Goffman notes social principles are guided by moral characteristics, which eventually support that individual in society.
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is not merely a refutation of the adage, "you can't judge a book by its cover" - Photographer Arthur Felig's (also known as WeeGee) 1943 photograph of two impeccably bedecked tiara-sporting society dames, glared at meanly by a crotchety woman, is apt to prompt anyone to pick up the text for a browse. Indeed, in Presenation's case, the photograph has a number of meanings in regard to the substance of the text.Read more ›
It was extremely difficult for me to read. I was 41 at the time. Nearly every page revealed to me errors in my thoughts and actions that were profoundly embarrassing. I would have to lay it aside and creep back a few days later to again confront myself.
I am a Buddhist. The book seems to reveal fundamental Buddhist truths discovered independently by an European with no previous exposure to the Dharma. The book powerfully enunciates the proposition that there is no "essence" of ourselves and our personality - but that all life is a performance - all too often, poorly written, produced, directed and acted. In today's politically correct world - this book could never be published.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was disappointed it is a mass market edition. Still a great book.Published 18 days ago by fragilefinger
This is a classic that even in the glut of literary theory, social theory, cultural theory, etc., I keep coming back to. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ariadne011
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a classic work of phenomenological (or at least phenomenologically-influenced) sociology. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dasein
Breadth and depth of insight into how we present ourselves to others and the reasons we put on performances. If you like eclectic readings about a subject this is a good read.Published 8 months ago by Ryan Kaplan
I got a copy of this early issue to review it before recommending it as a way to gain a rudimentary understanding of acting as a way to influence the primordial wave domain in... Read morePublished 8 months ago by lester f. lomax
Useful concept overall but presented in the tone of a different era. Hope to find useful interpretations of this great concept that might appeal to current mindsets.Published 10 months ago by Sean Gardiner
Excellent book! I was assigned this book in a class and found the reading to be fairly easy. The ideas in this book are helpful to any who wish to think deeply about the human... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Carl Pearson