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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,851 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
In what the General Practitioner called ‘this intelligent searching work’, the author of ‘Stigma’ and ‘Asylums’ presents an analysis of the structures of social encounters from the perspective of the dramatic performance. He shows us exactly how people use such ‘fixed props’ as houses, clothes, and job situations; how they combine in teams resembling secret societies; and ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published September 27th 1990 by Penguin (first published January 1st 1959)
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Dec 10, 2013 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-theory
I’m probably going to say something a little daft about this book – but I do think two things: Goffman really didn’t need to be quite so squeamish about his central metaphor of ‘all the world’s a stage’ and he should have started with something he said in his conclusion and worked out from there. That is, that there are five ways you can come to understand an enterprise: technically (what’s it trying to achieve and how does it go about achieving it?), politically (who has power and how do they g ...more
Aug 23, 2007 Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of human behavior.
I'm not a student of sociology or psychology, but I can't seem to stay away from the work of Erving Goffman. This is the third book by Goffman that I've read (others: Stigma, Asylums). In this book, Goffman elucidates a "dramaturgical" theory of self, which he claims is an additional method of explaining human action.
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 thes
"All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
-Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Goffman is saying here what Jacques said in Shakespeare, except in more technical language and with more examples. Jacques goes on about the Seven Ages of Man, but Goffman continues the extended metaphor of the theater, describing human social interaction as comprised of roles, and human identity as b
Aya Al-Oballi
"العالم، في حقيقة الأمر، حفل زفاف"
تلخيص/ مراجعة الكتاب -بالعربي - ضمن مشروع سطرين
Jan 18, 2015 Umut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Güzel kitap. Günlük yaşama dair dramaturjik bakış; Bir tiyaro mu oynuyoruz her gün? Sahne ile kulis arasında mı koşuşturuyoruz? Bir sahnenin oyuncusu, bir diğerinin seyircisi miyiz?

Genel kabul görmüş ve yaygın bir görüş kesinlikle: "Dünya bir sahne." Çoğumuz dünyaya herşeyi bilerek geldiğimizden dolayı (daha doğrusu her şeyi bilerek yetiştiğimizden) burada da bıyık altından gülmemiz doğal. Maskeli balo ve onun sahte yüzleri. Bunu görmüştük, bildiğimiz şeyler...

Kitabı okudukça bunu diyemiyoruz n
The sort of anecdotal sociology that makes intuitive sense, using the highly influential metaphor of human-behavior-as-theater. While I would like some more data sets, some more thorough surveys, some more rigor, it's still a fascinating set of hypotheses that could no doubt frame some interesting research, and no doubt has. As a non-sociologist, it's more of an interesting way to examine daily interactions, and that's how I employ it-- to find a sociological explanation for my colleague being a ...more
Anthony Buckley
Feb 24, 2009 Anthony Buckley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropology
I always felt that the reason so few sociologists took up Goffman's ideas was that they (the sociologists)were not good enough. I certainly felt this myself for about twenty years, and even when I did begin to use his ideas, it was in fear and trembling. Goffman was a phenomenon. The Presentation of Self is particular book was a real tour de force, probably his best book, though the later ones are wonderful too. Its central theme is familiar enough from Shakespeare - "All the world's a stage" - ...more
May 28, 2008 Heidy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for those interested in social interactions. After reading it, it will force you to consciously consider why people behave the way they do, or why you yourself do. Be forewarned, it will disappoint your view of mankind as well. You come to recognize that humans are often limited by how they believe others perceive of them. It's definitely a book that will leave you seeking a higher reason for living, which in the end is a pretty good thing. :)
Jun 15, 2009 Nana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
my handbook when I finished my thesis.
this book is kind of manual of life.
Fred R
Aug 28, 2011 Fred R rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have met people who didn't seem to have a "backstage."
Billie Pritchett
Perhaps the reason TV and film depicting human drama is so appealing is because these depictions are in idealized form imitations of certain impression that people wish to convey in everyday life. Erving Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life explores the idea that even though dramatic TV and film might be cases of art imitating life, it might be helpful thinking of ourselves as actors on a social stage with respect to our jobs and public lives. To varying degrees, we are trying to mana ...more
Krista Danis
Jun 21, 2011 Krista Danis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contrary to many of the reviews listed, I think Goffman's examination of social interaction as presentation is increasingly relevant in the consumer/citizen, capitalist culture we have created for ourselves in the Western, developed world. The performances we offer now are less representative and more detatched from a possible truth than the more romanticized presentations considered by Goffman.

Influenced, in part, by the work of Simone De Beauvoir, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life draw
Nicolás Rivas
Jan 03, 2016 Nicolás Rivas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is dangerous. It threatens to distract you in the middle of any important social interaction as you suddenly feel the dramatic dimension of what you're now experiencing. Then you become not only self-aware, but drama-aware, conscious of the stage you are in, what's your part, where's the audience, and how they interact according to the implicit rules of society. It is a joy to read, if maybe unnecessarily dense at some points; it may make you laugh but most of all it will make you real ...more
Oleg Kagan
Jun 02, 2014 Oleg Kagan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idea-books
I may be ignorant, but it seems to me that The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was the very first book to propose, in social science at the very least, the examination of behavior using the dramaturgical metaphor. And Erving Goffman presents the idea with gusto, structuring, breaking down, and presenting our roles as individuals, in teams, and everywhere in between. I intend, for my own edification, to outline The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, but it is enough to say at this point ...more
Andy Oram
Oct 24, 2009 Andy Oram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this classic sociological text at the recommendation of a
friend, because I was researching identity online. The book was quite
useful to provide some frameworks for understanding the presentation
of self online. But it's a rather distasteful work: personally, I
don't see my entire life as a performance and everyone around me as an
audience as he wants me to do (he calls this attitude his
"dramaturgical perspective"). Furthermore, the book was published in
1959, just before the social revolution
Structuralist extremism that rejects the very existence of self.
Identifies the equivalent of self as the total mass of masks worn in the different roles played throughout life i.e. the sum of social encounters one has had thus far. This also means the self is in a state of perpetual change depending on the “casting” of life or in other words the social situations creates the very essence of man and thus conceptualizes his being “through the eyes of the other”. It is impossible according to Goffm
Kevin Flynn
I think this is a great book to explain the way that people carry themselves in the world. This book is the great grand daddy to Daniel Pink, Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell and many other social-esque authors. This book explains wonderfully how perception is a mask we wear, a color we paint in, a lock box we hide our true selves in. People see only what we allow them to see. I wrote my Senior Seminar dissertation on this book. It was a great read....might be re reading it soon with the way F ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I like the idea of the metaphor of presenting self as acting a part upon a stage and Goffman's extension of this metaphor but it eventually breaks down and applies only well only to institutions. It's ideas are also very dated so I would recommend reading scholars who have built upon Goffman's work rather than Goffman. As an alternative to struggling through this thing, the wikipedia page on dramaturgy is pretty good and links to which is an excellent sum ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book full of insights into the mechanism of interpersonal communications.

Since this book was published a long time ago, the writing style makes the concepts hard to digest. All the materials are pretty dense but well worth the time and effort to comprehend them fully.

Goffman claims that the desire to present a certain image of ourselves to other people is the real driving force behind our everyday interactions. Everything we do, we do to maintain the image/reputation which we want other
Joe Juarez
May 11, 2016 Joe Juarez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book served as a huge reminder that people act in different ways depending on the audience. The audience could be friends, family members, classmates, teachers, or coworkers. Each audience changes, meaning that the performer has to change too.
This is a highly insightful book on the performative nature of social interactions. It also reveals the severe restrictions on acceptable middle class behavior in the 1950s. Accessible and engaging and you don't have to be a sociology nerd to enjoy it.
Jan 17, 2012 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned this in a drama class and although I dropped out of the class, hung onto the book as a "to-be-read". Finished it late in life and kicked myself for it. Offers invaluable insight on behaviour and perception.
Jun 07, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent look at social interactions, bringing us the notion of dramaturgical analysis. All the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote.
Daniel Boyce
Mar 12, 2016 Daniel Boyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book goes through three individual stories/scripts. A breaking down and examination of each, environmental scenario as with regard to symbolism that occur in daily social interactions in a everyday life. Including distinctive daily social activity with interpretations of environmental symbolism meanwhile explaining the affect that it has on people. Written in a dynamic and easy to understand literature style, the book feels like a drama-art while reading. This book was the first of Goffman' ...more
Apr 18, 2007 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Great book on how people create images of who they are, and how interpersonal communication is inherently dramatic in form.
James Pickles
Mar 30, 2014 James Pickles rated it liked it
I thought this was a very good read. I love the metaphor of a theatre to symbolise everyday social interaction; Goffman's dramaturgical analysis made sense and had me relaying many experiences of my own life as patterned performances.

I don't think this is very accessible to lay educated audiences though. Goffman isn't the clearest of writers and I think he can become incredibly convoluted in parts often resulting in my reading several pages and having to re-read them in order to grasp at what he
Feb 12, 2015 alternBRUNO°° rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primer libro del sociólogo canadiense Erving Goffman donde explora, mediante la aproximación dramatúrgica y el manejo de impresiones, las técnicas y acontecimientos detrás de las interacciones cotidianas cuando una persona entra en contacto con otra.

Coronada como una de las obras claves para la microsociología, Goffman concibe al mundo como un gran escenario en donde la gente encarna ciertos personajes y transmite ciertas definiciones de situaciones. En el libro están divididos las característi
Dec 02, 2014 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High-status Persons
Recommended to Tyler by: Book's Reputation
Shelves: non-fiction
This characterization of our self-presentation as analogous to a theatrical performance has a few interesting points to make, but the examples are dated and the social situations depicted often no longer occur or take place in a context of refinement not ordinarily encountered.

People who like this book might also like a literary treatment of exactly the same subject. For them I recommend The Damnation of Theron Ware: Or Illumination.
Mar 24, 2016 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worldview
framework for studying social interaction. excellent way of understanding how we manage our image in front of others. doesn't deal with the "truth" as much as a mutual understanding between interacting parties. it is known to be a front by all involved, and every participant usually has a stake in perpetuating the front in order to smoothly achieve the purpose of the interaction.

explores the use of setting, props, gestures, teams, tact, and faux pas in social settings.

one thing I got from this
Jan 15, 2015 Margaret marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Being married to a psychiatrist might seem an asset to a novelist, especially one as character-driven as Tyler. But she says he never discussed his work. . . . One thing he did bring home was a copy of a book called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, by Erving Goffman, which she found to be "the most valuable book a novelist could read. We are always trying to decipher gestures, or as writing teachers say, how to show rather than tell." Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler: a life's work
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Erving Goffman (June 11, 1922 – November 19, 1982) was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.

Considered "the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century" (Fine, Manning, and Smith 2000:ix), as a subjective analyst, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical analysis that began with his 1959 book The Present
More about Erving Goffman...

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“And to the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others.” 40 likes
“In our society, defecation involves an
individual in activity which is defined as inconsistent with
the cleanliness and purity standards expressed in many of our
performances. Such activity also causes the individual to
disarrange his clothing and to 'go out of play," that is, to
drop from his face the expressive mask that he employs in
face-to-face interaction. At the same time ic becomes difficult
for him to reassemble his personal front should the need to
enter into interaction suddenly occur. Perhaps that is a
reason why toilet doors in our society have locks on them.”
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