UNSW Sociology Essay

My workbook is to record my reflection on readings.

This week’s reading will be on Goffman

I will have to write a before and after class entry. I have attached the class ppt and notes to let have an insight on finishing the after class entry.

****Please choose a particular passage to analyse, explore, understand the meaning of and think of examples and application for. Then to work more closely with your before class entry and assess it to see if your interpretation of the passage you’ve selected still holds or if there is any change in your assessment.***

-Use personal experience to elaborate on the theories

I have attached the reading, the detailed requirements for the assignments and the marking rubrics, I am aiming for high distinction😭.

The Presentation of the self in Everyday Life
Goffman
Meeting strangers
 Goffman (1956:1) says:
 ‘When an individual enters the presence of others, they
commonly seek to acquire information about him or to
bring into play information about him already possessed…
 Information about the individual helps to define the
situation, enabling others to know in advance what he will
expect of them and what they may expect of him.
Informed in these ways. the others will know how best to
act in order to call forth a desired response from him..
 For those present, many sources of information become
accessible and many carriers (or •sign-vehicles•)
become available for conveying this information. If
unacquainted with the individual, observers can glean
clues from his conduct and appearance which allow
them to apply their previous experience with individuals
roughly similar to the one before them or, more important,
to apply untested stereotypes to him.’
To get started
 For each of these contexts –
 What established roles exist and what rights and
duties come with each role
 Describe what and who an encounter may involve
 How are people trying to influence one another
 Being in a court room
 Attending a job interview
 Party at someone’s house
 How are situations ‘defined’ in these contexts?
What’s the goal? Goffman 1956:3-4
Downton Abbey
 For those who [have never watched it], “Downton Abbey” is the story of the Crawley
family, headed by Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and his American wife, Cora.
They live in a vast “country house” known as, yes, Downton Abbey… The series toggles
between the lives of the nobility upstairs and the servants downstairs. …There are story lines
involving murder, rape, love affairs, out-of-wedlock births, personality conflicts galore and,
…, the marriage prospects of the Crawleys’ three headstrong daughters — Lady Edith,
Lady Mary and Lady Sybil.
 But the real subject of the series is how the British upper crust coped with the tumultuous
years between 1912 and 1926. This was a time of sweeping technological transformations
with the spread of telephones, automobiles, airplanes, radio, electrical appliances and
other modern wonders — and even more profound social upheavals as the rising working
class and middle class challenged the aristocrats’ dominance of British society.
 The series dramatizes the changes afoot with characters such as Tom Branson, the Irish
nationalist chauffeur whose marriage to Lady Sybil initially scandalizes the family; Joseph
Molesley, a footman with a passion for learning who leaves the household to become a
schoolteacher; and Isobel Crawley, a middle-class widow who clashes with her relative, the
imperious Dowager Countess of Grantham. The growing power of women is another major
theme. Two of the Crawley women refuse to accept their traditional place in society: Mary
takes over the running of the estate with Tom, and Edith takes over the running of a
magazine.
 The Crawleys are wary of change but also resigned to it. [They are] Determined to adapt
to the modern world while trying to preserve their way of life, … The most reactionary
member of the household is the head butler, Mr. Carson, but in the sixth season he retires
and is replaced by Thomas Barrow, a gay man at a time when homosexuality was still a
crime. In the film, set after the sixth season, Mr. Carson returns temporarily to oversee a
royal visit. At film’s end, he and the housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, walk away from the house,
secure in their belief that the Crawleys will remain in residence for many years to come.
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/downton-abbey-reminds-us-whatconservatism-really-means/2019/12/20/beb5df3e-235e-11ea-bed5880264cc91a9_story.html
Activity
 Consider the following concepts from Goffman’s The
Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.
 Part: An established social role that has certain rights and
duties associated with one’s status (p.16)
 Encounter/Interaction: The reciprocal influence of
individuals upon one another’s actions when in one
another’s immediate physical presence (p.15)
 Performance: All of the activities of a given participant on
a given occasion which serves to influence in any way
any of the other participants (p.15)
 Please identify the various parts, encounters, and
performances
 Downton Abbey
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HummNgSGn8k
Activity continued
 2. Consider the following quotations from Goffman’s essay
 ‘… each participant is expected to suppress his immediate heartfelt
feelings, conveying a view of the situation which he feels the others
will be able to find at least temporarily acceptable. The
maintenance of this surface of agreement, this veneer of
consensus, is facilitated by each participant concealing his own
wants behind statements which assert values to which everyone
present is likely to give lip- service’ (Goffman 1956:9)
 ‘Together the participants contribute to a single overall definition of
the situation which involves not so much a real agreement as to
what exists but rather a real agreement as to whose claims
concerning what issues will be temporarily honoured’ (Goffman
1956:9)
 With these quotations in mind, please discuss the following
questions:
 For each encounter/interaction you have identified, what overall
definition prevails? Whose claims are honoured, if only temporarily?
 For each participant who plays a part, what immediate heartfelt
feelings must be concealed?
 What techniques or tactics does each participant use in order to
maintain the prevailing definition? To undermine the prevailing
definition?
 In the following clip think about the defined ‘overall
definition’, the ‘parts’, how the participants tacitly
respond to invitations to follow a script and what
techniques or tactics does each participant use in order
to maintain the prevailing definition. Then what happens?
 Devil wears Prada
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PjZAeiU7uM
 In these clips, how was the definition undermined?
 Meeting the Prime Minister
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az4lkKjAsdI
 Q&A ABC
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND290z2kr2o

INTRODUCTION
Goffman, Erving (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday
Life. New York: Anchor Books, Excerpts.
(Week 5) 31
When an individual enters the presence of others, they
commonly seelc to acquire information about him or to
bring into play information about him already possessed.
They will be interested fn his general socio-economic status,
his conception of self, his attitude toward them, his com-petence, his trustworthiness, etc. Although some of this
information seems to be sought almost as an end in itself,
there are usually quite practical reasons for acquiring it.
Information about the individual helps to define the situation, enabling others to lcnow in advance what he will expect
of them and what they may expect of him. Informed in
these ways. the others will lcnow how best to act in order to
call forth a desired response from him.
For those present, many sources of information become
accessible and many carriers ( or •sign-vehicles•) become
available for conveying this information. If unacquainted
with the individual, observers can glean clues from his conduct and appearance which allow them to apply their
previous experience with individuals roughly similar to the
one before them or, more important, to apply untested
stereotypes to him. They can also assume from past experience that only individuals of a particular kind are likely
to be found in a given social setting. They can rely on what
the individual says about himself or on documentary evidence he provides as to who and what he is. If they lcnow,
or lcnow of. the individual by virtue of experience prior to
the interaction, they can rely on assumptions as to the persistence and generality of psychological traits as a means of
predicting his present and future behavior.
However. during the period in which the individual is fn
the immediate presence of the others, few events may occur
which directly provide the others with the conclusive information they will need if they are to direct wisely their own
l2
THE PRESENT ATION OF SELF
(Week 5) 32
activity. Many crucial facts lie beyond the time and place
of interaction or lie concealed within it. For example, the
•true” or “real” attitudes, beliefs, and emotions of the individual can be ascertained only indirectly, through his
avowals or through what appears to be involuntary expressive behavior. Similarly, if the individual offers the
others a product or service, they will often find that during
the interaction there will be no time and place immedia tely
available for eating the pudding that the proof can be found
in. They will be forced to accept some events as conventional or natural signs of something not directly availabl e
to the senses. In Ichheiser’s terms,1 the individu al will have
to act so that he intentionally or unintentionally expresses
himseH, and the others will in turn have to be Impressed
in some way by him._
The expressiveness of the individu al ( and therefor e his
capacity to give impressions) appears to involve two radically different kinds of sign activity: the expression that he
gives, and the expression that be gives off. The first involves
verbal symbols or their substitutes which he uses admittedly and solely to convey the information that be and the
others are known to attach to these symbols. This is communication in the traditional and narrow sense. The second
involves a wide range of action that others can treat as
symptomatic of the actor, the expectat ion being that the
action was perform ed for reasons other than the information
conveyed in this way. As we shall have to see, this distinction has an only initial validity. The individu al does of
course intentionally convey misinformation by means of
both of these types of communication, the first involving
deceit, the second feigning.
Taking communication in both its narrow and broad
sense, one finds that when the individu al is in the immediate presence of others, his activity will have a promissory
character. The others are likely to find that they must accept the individual on faith, offering him a just return
1 Gustav Icbheiser, “Misunderstandings in Human Relations,”
Supplement to The Amencan Journal of Sociology, LV (September, 1949), pp. 6-7.
INTRODU CTION
3
while be is present before them in exchange for somethi ng
whose true value will not be establish ed until after be bas
left their presence. ( Of course, the others also live by inference in their dealings with the physical world, but it is
only in the world of social interacti on that the objects about
which they make inferences will purpose ly facilitate and
hinder this inferential process.) The security that they justifiably feel in making inferences about the individu al will
vary, of course, dependi ng on such factors as the amount
of information they already possess about him, but no
amount of such past evidenc e can entirely obviate the n&cessity of acting on the basis of inferences. As William L
Thomas suggested:
It is also highly importa nt for us to realli.e that we do
not as a matter of fact lead our lives, make our decisions,
and reach our goals in everyda y life either statistically
or scientifically. We live by inferenc e. I am, let us say,
your guest. You do not know, you cannot determin e
scientifically, that I will not steal your money or your
spoons. But inferentially I will not, and inferentially you
have me as a guest.2
Let us now tum from the others to the point of view of
the individu al who presents himself before them. He may
wish them to think highly of him, or to think that he tbinlcs
highly of them, or to perceive bow in fact be feels toward
them, or to obtain no clear-cu t impression; be may wish
to ensure sufficient harmony so that the interacti on can be
sustaine d, or to defraud , get rid of, confuse, mislead, antagonize , or insult them. Regardl ess of the particul ar objective which the individu al has in mind and of bis motive
for having this objective, it will be in his interests to control
the conduct of the others, especially their responsive treatment of him.8 This control is achieved largely by influenc2 Quoted in E. H. Volkart, editor, Social Behaolor and Personality, Conbibutioos of W. I. Thomas to Theory and Social Research ( New York: Social Science Research Council, 1951 ),
P· 5.
8 Here I owe much
to an unpublished paper by Tom Burns of
the University of Edinbwg h. He presents the argument that in
4
THE PRESENTATION OP SELF
ing the definition of the situation which the others come
to formulate, and he can influence this definition by expressing himself in such a way as to give them the kind of
impression that will lead them to act voluntarily in accordance with his own plan. Thus, when an individual appears
in the presence of others, there will usually be some reason
for him to mobilize his activity so that it will convey an
impression to others which it is in his interests to convey.
Since a girl’s dormitory mates will glean evidence of her
popularity from the calls she receives on the phone, we
can suspect that some girls wiil arrange for calls to be made,
and Willard Waller’s finding can be anticipated:
It has been reported by many observers that a girl who
is called to the telephone in the dormitories will often
allow herself to be called several times, in order to give
all the other girls ample opportunity to hear her paged.’
Of the two kinds of communication-expressions given
and expressions given off-this report wiil be primarily concerned with the latter, ·with the more theatrical and contextual kind, the non-verbal, presumably unintentional
kind, whether this communication be purposely engineered
or not. As an example of what we must try to examfne, I
would like to cite at length a novelistic incident in which
Preedy, a vacationing Englishman, makes his first appearance on the beach of his summer hotel in Spain:
But in any case he took care to avoid catching anyone•s
eye. First of all, he had to make it clear to those potential
companions of his holiday that they were of no concern to him whatsoever. He stared through them, round
(Week 5) 33
all interaction a basic underlying theme is the desire of each
participant to guide and control the responses made by the
others present. A similar argument has been advanced by Jay
Haley in a recent unpubUshed paper, but in regard to a special
kind of control, that having to do with defining the nature of
the relationship of those involved in the interaction.
• Willard Waller, “The Rating and Dating Complex,” Amerlean Socwloglcal Revlew, II, p. 730.
INTRODUCTION
5
them, over them-eyes lost in space. The beach might
have been empty. Il by chance a ball was thrown his
way, he looked surprised; then let a smile of amusement
lighten his face {Kindly Preedy), looked round dazed
to see that there were people on the beach, tossed it
back with a smile to himself and not a smile at the people, and then resumed carelessly his nonchalant survey
of space.
But it was time to institute a little parade, the parade
of the Ideal Preedy. By devious handlings he gave any
who wanted to look a chance to see the title of his booka Spanish translation of Homer, classic thus, but not daring, cosmopolitan too-and then gathered together his
beach-wrap and bag into a neat sand-resistant pile
(Methodical and Sensible Preedy), rose slowly to stretch
at ease his huge frame (Big-Cat Preedy), and tossed
aside his sandals (Carefree Preedy, after all).
The marriage of Preedy and the seal There were alternative rituals. The first involved the stroll that turns into
a run and a dive straight into the water, thereafter
smoothing into a strong splashless crawl towards the horizon. But of course not really to the horizon. Quite suddenly he would turn on to his back and thrash great
white splashes with his legs, somehow thus showing that
he could have swum further had he wanted to, and then
would stand up a quarter out of water for all to see who
it was.
The alternative course was simpler, it avoided the
cold-water shock and it avoided the risk of appearing too
high-spirited. The point was to appear to be so used to
the sea, the Mediterranean, and tb.fs particular beach,
that one might as well be in the sea as out of it It
involved a slow stroll down and into the edge of the
water-not even noticing his toes were wet, land and
water all the same to hlm/-with his eyes up at the sky
gravely surveying portents, invisible to others, of the
weather (Local Fisherman Preedy),G
5
William Sansom, A Contest O’f Ladle& (London: Hogarth_
1956), pp. 230-32-
6
THE PRESENTATION OF SELF
(Week 5) 34
The novelist means us to see that Preedy is improperly
concerned with the extensive impressions he feels his sheer
bodily action is giving off to those around him. We can
malign Preedy further by assuming that he has acted
merely in order to give a particular impression, that this is
a false impression, and that the others present receive either
no impression at all, or, worse still, the impression that
Preedy is affectedly trying to cause them to receive this
particular impression. But the important point for us here
is that the kind of impression Preedy thinks he is making
is in fact the kind of impression that others correctly and
incorrectly glean from someone in their midst.
I have said that when an individual appears before others
his actions will influence the definition of the situation
which they come to have. Sometimes the individual will
act in a thoroughly calculating manner, expressing himself
in a given way solely in order to give the kind of impression
to others that is likely to evoke from them a specific response
he is concerned to obtain. Sometimes the individual will be
calculating in his activity but be relatively unaware that
this is the case. Sometimes he will intentionally and consciously express himself in a particular way, but chiefly
because the tradition of his group or social status require
this kind of expression and not because of any particular
response (other than vague acceptance or approval) that
is likely to be evoked from those impressed by the expression. Sometimes the traditions of an individual’s role will
lead him to give a well-designed impression of a particular
kind and yet he may be neither consciously nor unconsciously disposed to create such an impression. The others,
in their turn, may be suitably impressed by the individual’s
efforts to convey something, or may misunderstand the situation and come to conclusions that are warranted neither
by the individual’s intent nor by the facts. In any case, in
so far as the others act as if the individual had conveyed a
particular impression, we may take a functional or pragmatic
view and say that the individual has “‘effectively” projected
a given definition of the situation and “effectively” fostered
the understanding that a given state of affairs obtains.
INTI\ODUCTION
7
There is one aspect of the others• response that bears
special comment here. Knowing that the individual is likely
to present himself in a light that is favorable to him, the
others may divide what they witness into two parts; a part
that is relatively easy for the individual to manipulate at
w:ni being chiefly his verbal assertions, and a part in regard
to which he seems to have little concern or control, being
chiefly derived from the expressions he gives off. The others
may then use what are considered to be the ungovernable
aspects of his expressive behavior as a check upon the validity of what is conveyed by the governable aspects. In
this a fundamental asymmetry is demonstrated in the communication process, the individual presumably being aware
of only one stream of his communication, the witnesses of
this stream and one other. For example, in Shetland Isle
one crofter’s wife, in serving native dishes to a visitor from
thE’ mainland of Britain, would listen with a polite smile to
his polite claims of liking what he was eating; at the same
time she would take note of the rapidity with which the
visitor lifted his fork or spoon to his mouth, the eagerness
with which he passed food into his mouth, and the gusto
expressed in chewing the food, using these signs as a check
on the stated feelings of the eater. The same woman, in
order to discover what one acquaintance (A) •actually•
thought of another acquaintance (B)., would wait until B
was in the presence of A but engaged in conversation with
still another person (C). She would then covertly examine
the facial expressions of A as he regarded B in conversation
with C. Not being in conversation with B, and not being
directly observed by him, A would sometimes relax usual
constraina and tactful deceptions, and freely express what
he was •actually'” feeling about B. This Shetlander, in short,
would observe the unobserved observer.
Now given the fact that others are likely to check up on
the more controllable aspecb of behavior by means of the
less controllable, one can expect that sometimes the individual will try to exploit this very possibility, guiding the
impression he makes through behavior felt to be reliably
8
TBB PRESENTATION OF SELF
(Week 5) 35
informing.e For example, in gaining admission to a tight
social circle, the participant observer may not only wear an
accepting look while listening to an informant, but may also
be careful to wear the same look when observing the informant talking to others; observers of the observer will
then not as easily discover where he actually stands. A
specific illustration may be cited from Shetland Isle. When
a neighbor dropped in to have a cup of tea, he would
ordinarily wear at least a hint of an expectant warm smile
as he passed through the door into the cottage. Since lack
of physical obstructions outside the cottage and lack of
light within it usually made it possible to observe the visitor
unobserved as be approacbe.d the house, islanders sometimes took pleasure in watching the visitor drop whatever
expression he was manifesting and replace it with a sociable
one just before reaching the door. However, some visitors,
in appreciating that this examination was occurring, would
blindly adopt a social face a long distance from the house,
thus ensuring the projection of a constant image.
This kind of control upon the part of the individual reinstates the symmetry of the communication process, and sets
the stage for a kind of information game-a potentially infinite cycle of concealment, discovery, false revelation, and
rediscovery. It should be added that since the others are
likely to be relatively unsuspicious of the presumably unguided aspect of the individual’s conduct, he can gain much
by controlling it. The others of course may sense that the
individual is manipulating the presumably spontaneous aspects of his behavior, and seelc in this very act of manipulation some shading of conduct that the individual has not
managed to controL This again provides a check upon the
individual’s behavior, this time his presumably uncalculated
behavior, thus re-establishing the asymmetry of the communication process. Here I would like only to add the suggestion that the arts of piercing an individual’s effort at
e The widely read and rather sound writings of Stephen Potter
are concerned in part with signs that can be engineered to give
a shrewd observer the apparently incidental cues he needs to
discover concealed virtues the gamesman does not in fact possess.
DffRODUCI’ION
9
calculated unint.entionality seem better developed than our
capacity to manipulate our own behavior, so that regardless
of bow many steps have occurred in the information game,
the witness is likely to have the advantage over the actor,
and the initial asymmetry of the communication process is
likely to be retained.
When we allow that the individual projects a definition
of the situation when he appears before others, we must
also see that the others, however passive their role may
seem to be, will themselves effectively project a definition
of the situation by virtue of their response to the individual
and by virtue of any lines of action they initiate to him.
Ordinarily the definitions of the situation projected by the
several different participants are sufficiently attuned to one
another so that open contradiction will not occur. I do not
mean that there will be the kind of consensus that arises
when each individual present candidly expresses what he
really feels and honestly agrees with the expressed feelings
of the others present. This kind of harmony is an optimistic
ideal and in any case not necessary for the smooth working
of society. Rather, each participant is expected to suppress
his immediate heartfelt feelings, conveying a view of the
situation which he feels the others will be able to find at
least temporarily acceptable. The maintenance of this surface of agreement, this veneer of consensus, is facilitated by
each participant concealing his own wants behind statements which assert values to which everyone present feels
obliged to give lip service. Further, there is usually a kind
of division of definitional labor. Each participant is allowed to establish the tentative official ruling regarding
matters which are vital to him but not immediately important to others, e.g., the rationalizations and justi6cations
by which he accounts for his past activity. In exchange for
this courtesy he remains silent or non-committal on matters
important to others but not immediately important to him.
We have then a kind of interactional modus vivendl. Together the participants contribute to a single over-all definition of the situation which involves not so much a real
agreement as to what exists but rather a real agreement
THE PRESENTATION OF SELF
INTRODUCTION
as to whose claims concerning what issues will be temporarily honored. Real agreement will also exist concerning
the desirability of avoiding an open conflict of definitions
of the situation.1 I will refer to this }E’\vel of agreement as a
•working consensus.,. It is to be llllderstood that the working
consensus established in one interaction setting will be quite
different in content from the working consensus e.¢iblished
in a different type of setting. Thus. between two friends at
lunch, a reciprocal show of affection. respect. and concern
for the other is maintained. In servioo occupations., on the
other band, the specialist often maintains an image of disinterested involvement in the problem of the client, while
the client responds with a show of respect for the competence and integrity of the specialist. Regardles., of such
differences in content, however, the general form of these
working arrangements is thf’I same.
In noting the tendency for a participant to accept the
definitional claims made by thf” others present, we can appreciate the crucial importance of the information that the
individual initially possesses or acquires concerning his fellow participants, for it is on the basis of this initial information that the individual starts to define the situation and
starts to build up lines of responsive action. The individual’s
initial projection commits him to what he is proposing to
be and requires him to drop all pretenses of being otheT
things. As the interaction among the, participants p r o ~ .
additions and modifications in this initial informational state
will of course occur, but it is essential that these later developments be related without contradiction to, and even built
up from, the initial positions taken by the several partio-
ipants. It would seem that an individual can more easily
make a choice as to what line of treatment to demand
from and extend to the others present at the beginning of
an encounter than he can alter the line of treatment that is
being pursued once the interaction is underway.
In everyday life, of course, there is a clear understanding
that first impressions are important. Thus, the work adjustment of those in service occupations will often hinge upon
a capacity to seize and hold the initiative in the service
relation, a capacity that will require subtle aggressiveness
on the part of the server when he is of lower socio-economic
status than his client. W. F. Whyte suggests the waitress
as an example:
10
(Week 5) 36
., An interaction can be p~ely set up as a time and place
for voicing diJierences in opinion. but in such cases participants
must be careful to agre,- not to disagrer- on the proper tone of
voice vocabulary, and degree of seriousness in which all argumen~ are to be phrased. and upon thf’ mutual resped which
disafeeing participants must carefully continue to express towar oJlE’i another. This debatf’rs• or academic definition of the
situation may also be invoked suddenly and judiciously as a way
of translating a serious conflict of views into one that can be
handled within a framework acceptable to all present.
11
The first point that stands out is that the waitress who
bears up under pressure does not simply respond to her
customers. She acts with some skill to control their behavior. The first question to ask when we look at the
customer relationship is, “Does the waitress get the jump
on the customer, or does the customer get the jump on
the waitress?” The skilled waitress realizes the crucial
nature of this question. . . •
The skilled waitress tackles the customer with confidence and without hesitation. For example, she may find
that a new customer has seated himself before she could
clear off the dirty dishes and change the cloth. He is now
leaning on the table studying the menu. She greets him,
says, “May I change the cover, please?” and, without
waiting for an answer, talces his menu away from him so
that he moves back from the table, and she goes about
her work. The relationship is handled politely but firmly,
and there is never any question as to who is in cbarge.8
When the interaction that is initiated by “first impressions,.
is itself merely the initial interaction in an extended series
of interactions involving the same participants, we speak of
•getting off on the right foot” and feel that it is crucial that
8
W. F. Whyte, “When Workers and Customers Meet,” Chap.
VII, Indust,,y and Society, ed. W. F. Whyte (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1946), pp. 132-33.
12
THE PRESENTATION OF SELP
INTRODUCTION
we do so. Thus, one learns that some teachers take the
following view:
You can’t ever let them get the upper hand on you or
you’re through. So I start out tough. The first day I get a
new class in, I let them know who’s boss .•• You’ve got
to start off tough, then you can ease up as you go along.
H you start out easy-going. when you try to get tough,
they11 just look at you and laugh.t
(Week 5) 37
Similarly, attendants in mental institutions may feel that if
the new patient is sharply put in his place the first day on
the ward and made to see who is boss, much future diffi.
culty will be prevented.10
Given the fact that the individual effectively projects a
definition of the situation when he enters the presence of
others, we can assume that events may occur within the
interaction which contradict, discredit, or otherwise throw
doubt upon this projection. When these disruptive events
occur, the interaction itself may come to a confused and
embarrassed halt. Some of the assumptions upon which
the responses of the participants had been predicated ~
come untenable, and the participants Bnd themselves
lodged in an interaction for which the situation has been
wrongly defined and is now no longer defined. At such
moments the individual whose presentation has been discredited may feel ashamed while the others present may
feel hostile and all the participants may come to feel ill at
ease, nonpiussed, out of countenance, embarrassed, experiencing the kind of anomy that is generated when the minute social system of face-to-face interaction breaks down.
In stressing the fact that the initial definition of the
situation projected by an individual tends to provide a plan
for the co-operative activity that follows-in stressing this
t Teacher interview quoted
13
action point of view”‘.””we must not overlook the crucial fact
that any projected definition of the situation also has a
distinctive moral character. It is this moral character of
projections that will chiefly concern us in this report. Society is organized on the principle that any individual who
possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to
expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way. Connected with this principle is a second, namely
that an individual who implicitly or explicitly signifies that
he has certain social characteristics ought in fact to be
what he claims he is. In consequence, when an individual
projects a definition of the situation and thereby makes
an implicit or explicit claim to be a person of a particular kind, he automatically exerts a moral demand upon
the others, obliging them to value and treat him in the
manner that persons of his kind have a right to expect.
He also implicitly forgoes all claims to be thin~ he does
not appear to be11 and hence forgoes the treatment that
would be appropriate for such individuals. The others Bnd,
then, that the individual has informed them as to what is
and as to what they ought to see as the “is.”
One cannot judge the importance of definitional disruptions by the frequency with which they occur, for apparently they would occur more frequently were not constant
precautions taken. We find that preventive practices are
constantly employed to avoid these embarrassments and
that corrective practices are constantly employed to compensate for discrediting occurrences that have not been
successfully avoided When the individual employs these
strategies and tactics to protect his own projections, we
may refer to them as “defensive practices”; when a participant employs them to save the definition of the situation
projected by another, we speak of “protective practices” or
by Howard S. Becker, “Social
Class Variations in the Teacher-Pupil Relationship,” Journal
of Educational Sociology, XXV, p. 459.
10 Harold Taxe1, “Authori~ Structure in a Mental H~ttal
Ward” ( unpublished Masters thesis, Department of
University of Chicago, 1953).
Soc:10
gy.
11 This role of the witness in limiting what it is the individual
can be has been stressed by Existentialists, who see it as a basic
threat to individual freedom. See Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and
Nothingness, trans. by Hazel E. Barnes ( New York: Philosophical Library, 1956 ), p. 365 ff.
(Week 5) 38
THE PRESENTA TION OF SELP
14
•tact.• Together, defensive and protective practices comprise the techniques employed to safeguard the impression
fostered by an individual during his presence before others.
It should be added that while we may be ready to see that
no fostered impression would survive if defensive practices
were not employed, we are less ready perhaps to see that
few impressions could survive if those who received the
impression did not exert tact in their reception of it.
In addition to the fact that precautions are taken to
prevent disruption of projected definitions, we may also
note that an intense interest in these disruptions comes to
play a significant role in the social life of the group. Practical jokes and social games are played in which embarrassments which are to be taken unseriously are purposely
engineered.12 Fantasies are created in which devastating
exposures occur. Anecdotes from the past-r~ embroidered, or fictitious -are told and retold, detailing disruptions
which occurred, almost occurred, or occurred and were
admirably resolved. There seems to be no grouping which
does not have a ready supply of these games, reveries, and
cautionary tales, to be used as a source of humor, a catharsis for anxieties, and a sanction for inducing individuals to
be modest in their claims and reasonable in their projected
expectations. The individual may tell himself through
dreams of getting into impossible positions. Families tell of
the time a guest got his dates mixed and arrived when
neither the house nor anyone in it was ready for him.
Journalists tell of times when an all-too-meaningful misprint occurred, and the paper’s assumption of objectivity
or decorum was humorously discredited. Public servants tell
of times a client ridiculously misunderstood form instructions, giving answers which implied an unanticip ated and
bizarre definition of the situation.18 Seamen, whose home
away from home is rigorously h~man, tell stories o_f coming
back home and inadvertently asking mother to pass the
12 Goffman, op. cit., pp. 319-27.
18 Peter Blau, “Dynamic s of Bureaucr acy (~h.D_. dissertation, Depai:nne~t of So~iology, Columbia Uruversity, forthcoming, University of Chicago Press), PP· 127-29.
INTRODUC TION
15
fucking butter.”1 ‘ Diplomats tell of the time a near-sighted
queen asked a republican ambassador about the health of
his Jcing.llS
To summarize, then, I assume that when an individual
appears before others he will have many motives for trying
to control the impression they receive of the situation. This
report is concerned with some of the common techniques
that persons employ to sustain such impressions and with
some of the common contingencies associated with the employment of these techniques. The specific content of any
activity presented by the individual participan t, OT the role
it plays in the interdepe ndent activities of an on-going
social system, will not be at issue; I shall be concerned only
with the participant’s dramaturgical problems of presenting
the activity before others. The issues dealt with by stag&craft and stage managem ent are sometimes trivial but they
are quite general; they seem to occur everywhere in social
life, providing a clear-cut dimension for formal sociological
analysis.
It will be convenient to end this introduction with some
definitions that are implied in what has gone before and
required for what is to follow. For the purpose of this report,
interaction (that is, face-to-face interaction) may be
roughly defined as the reciprocal influence of individuals
upon one another’s actions when in one another’s immediate physical presence. An interaction may be de6ned as
all the interaction which occurs throughout any one occasion when a given set of individuals are in one another’s
continuous presence; the term “an encounter” would do
as well. A ..performance” may be defined as all the activity
of a given participa nt on a given occasion which serves to
influence in any way any of the other participants. Taking
a particular participan t and his pedorma nce as a basic
point of reference, we may refer to those who contribute
H Walter M. Beattie, Jr., “The Merchant Seaman” ( unpublished M.A. Report, Departme nt of Sociology, University
of Chicago, 1950), p. 35.
us Sir Frederick Ponsonby, Recollectw m of Three Reigns
( New York: Dutton, 1952), p. 46.
THE PRESENTATION OF SELP
the other performances as the audience, observers, or coparticipants. The pre-established pattern of action which
is unfolded during a performance and which may be presented or played through on other occasions may be called
a •part• or •routine.” 18 These situational terms can easily
be related to conventional structural ones. When an individual or performer plays the same part to the same audience on different occasions, a social relationship is likely to
arise. Defining social role as the enactment of rights and
duties attached to a given status, we can say that a social
role will involve one or more pam and that each of these
different parts may be presented by the performer on a
series of occasions to the same kinds of audience or to an
audience of the same persons.
H For comments on the importance of distinguishing between
a routine o£ interaction and any particular Instance when this
routine is played through, see John von Nemnaoo and Oskar
Morgenstern. The Theory of Gatna and Economic &haoiow(211d ed.; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), p. 49-
(Week 5) 39
Week 5 – ARTS1870
Week 5 –
Presentations of Self
in Everyday Life
◦ Erving Goffman (1959)
◦ The Presentation of Self in Everyday
Life
Workbook Feedback
No Lecture in
W6!
◦Workbook Feedback to be released next week
General Feedback:
◦ Write 2 entries (Before-class and After-class)
• Emphasis on your thoughts, intellectual process, what you find interesting! But try to avoid
‘opinion’, ask questions of the text instead.
• Avoid the tendency to reproduce the text either by relying on quotes or summarising the
text. Remember we’re not so interested in the quotes, we’re interested in your reactions,
responses, what you are thinking about.
• Remember to provide in-text citations (Goffman 1959:6)
How can we rethink the social?
How can we rethink the social?
◦ Formal vs. Informal Moral Order
◦ The self & the social – What is the self?
◦ Erving Goffman – Dramaturgical Analysis
◦ Activity – Are you hungry?
◦ Erving Goffman – The Presentation of Self
Plan for today
Formal vs Informal Moral Order
Talking while
the teacher
is talking
How can we
‘make
trouble’?
Playing
music in
class
Arson
The purpose of
making trouble isn’t
to make trouble per
se…
It is to make trouble
that exposes the
invisible moral order
that structures our
experience
The way this is
revealed is by
revealing the
socially structured
affects of of anxiety,
shame, guilt, and
indignation
The self and the social
To get us started….what is the self?
Jot down one or two points.
And from there…how are the self and the social related?
Jot down your ideas.
Erving Goffman
(1922-1982)
◦ b. Mannville, Alberta, Canada (pop.
800 – 2016)
◦ Dramaturgical Analysis
◦ The Presentation of Self in Everyday
Life (1959)
◦ Asylums (1961)
◦ Stigma (1963)
◦ Interaction Ritual (1967)
Dramaturgical
Analysis
◦ Dramaturgical Analysis – Conceives of social life as if
it were played out on stage
◦ Actors – Theatrical performance
◦ Onstage – Impression management
◦ Stage craft – Sustain the definition of a situation
◦ Back stage – Inner Life
PERFORMANCE
What is a
performance?
And how might it
help us to rethink
the social?
Historical
Usage
Performance
Performance
– Interaction
• Defining social role as the
enactment of rights and duties
attached to a given status, we can
say that a social role will involve
one or more parts and that each of
these different parts may be
presented by the performer on a
series of occasions to the same
kinds of audience or to an
audience of the same persons
(Goffman 1959:16).
Performance
– Interaction
• Defining social role as the
enactment of rights and duties
attached to a given status, we can
say that a social role will involve
one or more parts and that each of
these different parts may be
presented by the performer on a
series of occasions to the same
kinds of audience or to an
audience of the same persons
(Goffman 1959:16).
The Royal Tenenbaums (Dir.) Wes Anderson 2001
What’s
happening
here?
Defining the Situation
• When we allow that the individual projects a definition of the
situation when he appears before others, we must also see that
the others, however passive their role may seem to be, will
themselves effectively project a definition of the situation by
virtue of their response to the individual and by virtue of any lines
of action they initiate to him. Ordinarily the definitions of the
situation projected by the several different participants are
sufficiently attuned to one another so that open contradiction will
not occur (Goffman 1959:9).
Here’s the situation –
‘Welcome to ARTS1870,
we’re going to have a
fabulous term ‘rethinking
the social’
Ah, thanks for
defining the
situation for us…now
we know what to
expect. We’re
going to rethink the
social in 10 weeks!
Are you hungry?
Controlling the Situation
• ‘…I assume that when an individual appears before others he will have
many motives for trying to control the impression they receive of the
situation. This report is concerned with some of the common techniques
that persons employ to sustain such impressions and with some of the
common contingencies associated with the employment of these
techniques.’ (1959:15)
• For example, the ‘true’ or ‘real’ attitudes, beliefs, and emotions of the
individual can be ascertained only indirectly, through his avowals or
through what appears to be involuntary expressive behavior’ (1959:2)
• Regardless of the particular objective which the individual has in mind
and of his motive for having this objective, it will be in his interests to
control the conduct of the others, especially their responsive treatment
of him. (1959:3)
Defining the Situation
Initial
information
First
Impressions
Define the
situation
Respond
• ‘In noting the tendency for a participant to accept the definitional
claims made by the others present, we can appreciate the crucial
importance of the information that the individual initially possesses
or acquires concerning his fellow participants, for it is on the basis of
this initial information that the individual starts to define the situation
and starts to build up lines of responsive action’ (1959:10)
Defining the Situation
Greater Choice – More Flexibility
Initial
information
First
Impressions
Less Choice – More Rigid
Define the
situation
Respond
• As the interaction among the participants progresses, additions and
modifications in this initial informational state will of course occur…It
would seem that an individual can more easily make a choice as to
what line of treatment to demand from and extend to the others
present at the beginning of an encounter than he can alter the line
of treatment that is being pursued once the interaction is
underway.’ (1959:10-11)
g
n
i
in
f
e n
d
o
Re uati
sit
the
Safeguarding impressions
• Defensive practices – when the individual employs these
strategies and tactics to protect his own projections
• Protective practices or ‘tact’ – when a participant employs them
to save the definition of the situation projected by another.
And then there’s redefining the situation….
An interview with Jesse Eisenberg

Disruptive Events
Given the fact that the individual effectively projects a definition of the
situation when he enters the presence of others, we can assume that events
may occur within the interaction which contradict, discredit, or otherwise
throw doubt upon this projection. When these disruptive events occur, the
interaction itself may come to a confused and embarrassed halt. Some of
the assumptions upon which the responses of the participants had been
predicated become untenable, and the participants find themselves lodged
in an interaction for which the situation has been wrongly defined and is now
no longer defined. At such moments the individual whose presentation has
been discredited may feel ashamed while the others present may feel hostile,
and all the participants may come to feel ill at ease, nonplussed, out of
countenance, embarrassed, experiencing the kind of anomie that is
generated with the minute social system of face-to-face interaction breaks
down. (6)
To sum up…
1. An individual gives off two different signs: the expression
that he (or she) gives; and the expression that she (or he)
gives off.
2. The initial definition of the situation provides a plan for the
cooperative activity that follows. This implies a moral
context.
3. An individual who signifies that he (or she) has certain social
characteristics ought in fact to be what he (or she) is. This
implies a moral obligation on others, obliging one to value
and treat the individual accordingly.
ARTS1870 Workbook Performance Standards
Textual Engagement
Workbook entries
demonstrate textual
engagement.
Workbook entries focus
on specific words and
themes to consider
their significance and
meaning.
Attention to Detail
Workbook entries link
general concepts to
specific examples
either by connecting
different facets of the
text or through
application to everyday
experience.
Critical Reflection
Workbook entries
consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
HD (85-100)
Workbook entries
demonstrate
thoughtful and
compelling textual
engagement.
Workbook entries
explain the significance
and meaning of specific
words and themes.
Workbook entries
convincingly link
general concepts to
specific examples
either by connecting
different facets of the
text or through
application to everyday
experience.
Workbook entries
thoughtfully and
skilfully consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
D (75-84)
Workbook entries
demonstrate consistent
and robust textual
engagement.
Workbook entries
identify the significance
and meaning of specific
words and themes.
C (65-74)
Workbook entries
demonstrate consistent
textual engagement.
Workbook entries
appreciate that specific
words and themes have
significance and
meaning.
Workbook entries
adeptly link general
concepts to specific
examples either by
connecting different
facets of the text or
through application to
everyday experience.
Workbook entries link
general concepts to
specific examples
either by connecting
different facets of the
text or through
application to everyday
experience.
P (50-64)
Workbook entries
demonstrate emerging
textual engagement.
Workbook entries
attempt to appreciate
that specific words and
themes have
significance and
meaning.
Workbook entries
attempt to link general
concepts to specific
examples either by
connecting different
facets of the text or
through application to
everyday experience.
Workbook entries
effectively consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
Workbook entries
consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
Workbook entries
attempt to consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
F (49-0)
Workbook entries
contain limited textual
engagement.
Workbook entries lack
an awareness that
specific words and
themes have
significance or
meaning.
Workbook entries
exhibit limited
attempts to link general
concepts to specific
examples either by
connecting different
facets of the text or
through application to
everyday experience.
Workbook entries offer
limited attempts to
consider the
implications and
significance of the text
for theoretical analysis
and lived experience.
ARTS1870 Workbook Performance Standards
Critical Assessment
Workbook entries
reflect on how
assumptions, ideas and
understanding of the
text have changed from
before class to after
class.
Development of Ideas
Workbook entries are
used to reflect on the
overall learning process
through the course.
Workbook entries
connect themes,
concepts and ideas
between thinkers.
Referencing
Workbook entries
reference passages,
themes and ideas.
Workbook entries
carefully and
consistently reflect on
how assumptions, ideas
and understanding of
the text have changed
from before class to
after class.
Workbook entries
contain careful,
meaningful reflections
on the overall learning
process through the
course. Workbook
entries effectively and
consistently connect
themes, concepts and
ideas between thinkers.
Workbook entries
consistently reference
passages, themes and
ideas.
Workbook entries
actively and effectively
reflect on how
assumptions, ideas and
understanding of the
text have changed from
before class to after
class.
Workbook entries
contain consistent
reflections on the
overall learning process
through the course.
Workbook entries
consistently connect
themes, concepts and
ideas between thinkers.
Workbook entries
reflect on how
assumptions, ideas and
understanding of the
text have changed from
before class to after
class.
Workbook entries
attempt to reflect on
how assumptions, ideas
and understanding of
the text have changed
from before class to
after class.
Workbook entries
reflect on the overall
learning process
through the course.
Workbook entries
connect themes,
concepts and ideas
between thinkers.
Workbook entries
attempt to reflect on
the overall learning
process through the
course. Workbook
entries try to connect
themes, concepts and
ideas between thinkers.
Workbook entries
regularly reference
passages, themes and
ideas.
Workbook entries
reference passages,
themes and ideas.
Workbook entries
attempt to reference
passages, themes and
ideas.
Workbook entries
contain limited
reflection on how
assumptions, ideas and
understanding of the
text have changed from
before class to after
class.
Workbook entries
contain limited
reflection on the
overall learning process
through the course.
Workbook entries
contain few, if any,
attempts to connect
themes, concepts and
ideas between thinkers.
Workbook entries fail
to reference passages,
themes and ideas.

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