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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,814 ratings  ·  165 reviews
A notable contribution to our understanding of ourselves. This book explores the realm of human behavior in social situations and the way that we appear to others. Dr. Goffman uses the metaphor of theatrical performance as a framework. Each person in everyday social intercourse presents himself and his activity to others, attempts to guide and control the impressions they ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published May 20th 1959 by Anchor Books (first published January 1st 1959)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,814 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
explains in 250 pages why parties are terrible

five stars now, five stars forever
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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. :)
Aya Al-Oballi
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
"العالم، في حقيقة الأمر، حفل زفاف"
تلخيص/ مراجعة الكتاب -بالعربي - ضمن مشروع سطرين
Данило Судин
Соціальна взаємодія опирається на уявлення учасників один про одного. Проте як ці уявлення конструюються? І чому ми віримо одним презентаціям себе та не віримо іншим? Якраз про це і йдеться в книзі Ірвінґа Ґофмана "Представлення себе в повсякденному житті". Ласкаво запрошую перегляду!
Roy Lotz
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Anthony Buckley
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Krista Danis
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Fred R
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I have met people who didn't seem to have a "backstage."
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
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology, self
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
Jul 27, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
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
my handbook when I finished my thesis.
this book is kind of manual of life.
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent look at social interactions, bringing us the notion of dramaturgical analysis. All the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote.
Shagun Tripathi
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
Goffman’s profound influence on micro-sociology originates from this book in which he advances ideas from his doctoral dissertation. He is credited for the birth of “dramaturgical analysis” which observes human interactions in context of their time, place and audience. The focal theme of this reading section is the “dramaturgical act”: a social act that is designed to be seen by others, aimed at improving one’s image, gaining success if the audience believes that the character they see actually ...more
K. Fitzgerald
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Interesting book about why people act the way they do in different social settings.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Not necessarily new information, but then the book is close to 69 years old and Goffman himself points out that the concept is well known. Occasionally racist, with repeated simplified views of Chinese and Indian life and a few iffy comments about other minority cultures.

My main interest in this book is that it seems to be a clear and interesting starting point to much of contemporary identity theory, with some of the most interesting commentary in the conclusion. Some of his commentary sounds l
Eva Lucia
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2016 added it
Shelves: sociology
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
Nicolás Rivas
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed this book and read it all the way through, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, and I've given it a low rating because it was enjoyable but not great.

I like older academic books that haven't reached the mainstream because I think there's likely to be interesting stuff there that I haven't heard before. This book fits that description - it's one of the top 20~ sociology books of all time, but didn't make so much of an impact that its ideas are a part of the cultural consciousness I d
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociological
Feels a bit dated and sexist by current standards, but Goffman's theatrical metaphor of symbolic interaction is still fascinating. Sure, it lacks the hard quantitative evidence that would really cement it as an idea, but when have symbolic interactionists ever cared about data sets? Goffman's writing is theoretical, but could easily be understood by a layman (which I most definitely am). Much of the individual observations will seem rather self-evident, but hey, someone had to codify how it work ...more
Michael David
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recently, I've overestimated my capabilities when it comes to finishing a book. I think my slowness has got to do with the type of book I've been reading: most of the books I recently finished involve heavy, cerebral topics that need a lot of analysis and digestion. For example, while Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow posited a novel theory of economics and psychology, Goffman's work spoke about novel ideas in sociology and psychology.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was Goffman's stat
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book as part of the literature in writing my master thesis. I applied Goffman's "dramaturgy" framework in analyzing niche consumption practices. I found concepts of "fronts", "idealization" and "defensive practices" useful, as they are the clear display of one's everyday behavior, which students of sociology can readily learn a whole lot about the aptitudes of others just from observing those.

My favorite is the concept of "teams" where an individual's self-presentation is often motiv
Nicholas Whyte
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it

Goffman takes the theatre as his metaphor and calls attention to how, in their social interactions, human beings are often consciously (or sub-consciously) playing a role, using props such as clothes, tools, buildings, and performing to different audiences in different characters. It would be going too far to say that he has discovered the secret to understanding why everyone does everything, but the concept I think is a useful tool for unlocking partic
Alexander Smith
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book presents a lot of interesting propositions by which an identity in everyday communication can be interpreted as identity construction. Certainly much of this is based in the time it was written. For example, the notions of marriage, the notions of work-life, and the bounds of "social" themselves have changed since this time. Somehow, still, the message is clear enough to resonate more than half a century later.

There are bits here that are really timely for those who are interested in s
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I'm not sure I learned anything new here,or just had what I already knew presented to me in a semi-academic fashion,reinforced by some amusing situational references and quotes from obscure sources regarding etiquette.The main subject of the book deals with the study of face to face human interaction presented as a performer to audience relationship.The complexities of teamwork are considered,as well as concepts such as 'front' and 'backstage' and how impressions are communicated that foster id ...more
Andy Oram
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
پرسپکتیو نمایشی اولین بار توسط اروینگ گافمن بکار رفت و او صحنه، بازیگران و تماشاچیان تیاتر را استعارهای برای مشاهده و آنالیز مساله بغرنج روابط اجتماعی قرار داد. از این نگاه، شخص (خود) از قسمتهای گوناگونی تشکیل شده که افراد آن را بازی میکنند. کلید طلایی بازیگران اجتماعی در این است که خودهای مختلفشان را طوری به کار بگیرند تا بتوانند تاثیرات بخصوصی را بر تماشاچیان متفاوتشان خلق کرده و حفظ نمایند. ارتباطات بین افراد که توسط محیط و بازیگر انجام میگیرد، «پرفورمنس» است.
پرفورمنسی که ساخته شده تا دیگران
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sociology Students; People interested in Sociology
As a sociology student, this is not the easiest piece to read. However, if you can get past the way it was written, the reader is sure to learn a thing or two about identity.
Hoffman certainly makes it easier with the use of performances.
Andrew Neuendorf
Mar 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Partial, but mildly stimulating for anyone who already didn't know that our social lives are the result of self-conscious and un-self-conscious performances. Mind blowing if you're a freshman from the farm.
Michael Tabman
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, sociology
The title of this book says it all. We all present ourselves in public to reflect the image we wish for others to see. As an armchair social-psychologist, I enjoyed Goffman's unraveling of our human nature. To understand your opponent's "act" is to be able to guess his next move - the very essence of game theory. As this was written circa 1959, the data, studies and even writing style is a bit outdated, making it a little difficult to stay engaged at times.

If you enjoyed this, you should enjoy
CL Chu
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
A classical functionalist analysis on the importance and process of dramatic performance in everyday (in fact, mainly in workplace and institutions) life. The overemphasis on rationalized behavior and the subsequent marginalization of the ambivalence, conflict, and power structure both in team and within individual who, as living creatures, is conditioned by various contradictory and unspeakable desire, biological impulse, and contingencies, are the major limitations of the book. Its largely unc ...more
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This BOOK IS AWESOME!!! 2 55 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
“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.” 61 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…