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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  3,593 Ratings  ·  149 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 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
"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
May 22, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be"
Kurt Vonnegut
Aug 22, 2007 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
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
explains in 250 pages why parties are terrible

five stars now, five stars forever
Jan 04, 2015 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
Aya Al-Oballi
"العالم، في حقيقة الأمر، حفل زفاف"
تلخيص/ مراجعة الكتاب -بالعربي - ضمن مشروع سطرين
May 27, 2007 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. :)
Anthony Buckley
Feb 24, 2009 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
Fred R
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have met people who didn't seem to have a "backstage."
Roy Lotz
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misanthropology
My favorite part of this book is the cover. The presentation of the book in everyday life.

My second favorite part of this book is the author’s name, which is fun to say repeatedly in foreign accents.

My third favorite part of this book was the body of the work itself, which is, indeed, brilliant, and contains innumerable insightful gems for the social scientist or layman. The book is propelled along by an array of interesting examples taken from sociology, ethnography, literature, and philosophy.
Krista Danis
Jun 21, 2011 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
Friedrich Mencken
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
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
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
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.
Joe Juarez
Dec 09, 2012 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.
Jan 17, 2012 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.
Apr 18, 2007 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.
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
my handbook when I finished my thesis.
this book is kind of manual of life.
May 17, 2012 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.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knjiga predstavlja sociolosku studiju - drustveni zivot kao pozornica.
Bavi se strukturom drustvenih susreta koji nastaju kad god se ljudi nadju u medjusobnom neposrednom fizickom prisustvu.
Autor sugerise da se svaka drustvena komunikacija temelji na odredjenim tehnikama predstavljanja i na odredjenim izvedbama. Uloga izrazavanja jeste stvaranje utisaka o sebi, izrazavanje u smislu komunikativne uloge koju pojedinac igra u drustvenoj interakciji.
Tokom interakcije sa drugima ponasa se kao glumac
K. Fitzgerald
What can I say... the devil is in the detail, and Goffman is the master of the detail. Life is a theatre stage, social interaction is a performance, and the individual is a social construct… this explains selfie culture :)
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about why people act the way they do in different social settings.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dense, brilliant book. The central thesis has pervaded thinking so much since it was written.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hepimiz bir sahnedeyiz ve hepimiz rol yapıyoruz. Bazen iyiyi bazen kötüyü oynuruz ana rol yapıyoruz.
Eva Lucia
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Also posted on Eva Lucias blog

Erving Goffman’s sociological theory is important to mention, when one talks about the impact of social media. The focus of theory is social interaction; how the individuals portray themselves, and ‘the part of social life that occurs whenever two or more individuals are in one another’s response presence’ (Stones, 2008). Furthermore, Goffman presents a close analysis of ‘what people do when they [are] in the company of others, and of how those doings are understood
Nicolás Rivas
Mar 03, 2015 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
Andy Oram
Oct 24, 2009 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
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This BOOK IS AWESOME!!! 2 54 Oct 24, 2013 12:24PM  
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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
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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.” 57 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.”
More quotes…