Erving Goffman: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

1969 Allen Lane The Penguin Press, London.

Notes

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................3 1 PERFORMANCES.....................................................................................................5
Belief in the part one is playing..............................................................................................................................5 Front.........................................................................................................................................................................5 Dramatic realization................................................................................................................................................5 Idealization...............................................................................................................................................................6 Maintenance of expressive control.........................................................................................................................6 Misrepresentation....................................................................................................................................................6 Mystification............................................................................................................................................................7 Reality and contrivance..........................................................................................................................................7

2 TEAMS.......................................................................................................................8 3 REGIONS AND REGION BEHAVIOUR....................................................................8 4 DISCREPANT ROLES...............................................................................................8 5 COMMUNICATION OUT OF CHARACTER............................................................10
Treatment of the absent........................................................................................................................................10 Staging talk............................................................................................................................................................10 Team collusion.......................................................................................................................................................10 Realigning actions.................................................................................................................................................10

6 THE ARTS OF IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT......................................................10
Defensive attributes and practices.......................................................................................................................11 Protective practices................................................................................................................................................11 Tact regarding tact................................................................................................................................................11

7 CONCLUSION.........................................................................................................12
Comparisons and study........................................................................................................................................13 The role of expression is conveying impressions of self.....................................................................................13 Staging and the self...............................................................................................................................................14

Introduction
Összefoglalás: A társas helyzetben jelenlévő mások információforrást jelentenek, hogy mi fog történni, ezért mindenki igyekszik kedvező benyomást kelteni, ami a saját ügyei előmozdítását segíti. A keltett benyomás persze olyan lehet, aminek meg tud felelni az egyén: ezt a képet nem csak az egyén védelmezi, hanem a társak is, ez a tapintat. A kép fenntartásában egyaránt részt vesz az egyén és a társak. “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. They will be interested in his general socio-economic status, his conception of self, his attitude towards them, his competence, his trustworthiness, etc. Although some of this information is sought 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 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.” p. 1. Expressiveness of the individual: the expressions he gives and those he gives off. p. 2. “when the individual is in the immediate presence of others, his activity will have a promissory character.” p. 2. “it is only in the world of social interaction that the objects about which they make inferences will purposefully facilitate and hinder this inferential process ” [unlike in the physical world] p. 3. “the necessity of acting on the basis of inferences” p. 3. The individual will be interested in making a favourable show of himself. So others for judging his true personality will pay more attention to those expressions that cannot be manipulated, that are regularly given off. p. 6. Interactional modus vivendi, a working consensus, a single over-all definition of the situation (BK: is that really single). p. 9. There is a tendency to accept the definitional claims made by those present. p. 9. “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 he has certain social characteristics ought in fact to be what he claims he is.” p. 11. Definitional disruptions also occur, however, quite often; there are also preventive practices. “When the individual employs these strategies or 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 ’tact’.

Together, defensive and protective practices comprise the techniques employed to safeguard the impression fostered by an individual during his presence before others.” p. 12. --Face-to-face interaction: “the reciprocal influence of individuals upon one another’s actions when in one another’s immediate physical presence.” p. 14. Encounter: “all the interaction that occurs throughout any one occasion” p. 14. Performance: “all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in any way any of the other participants” p. 14. Audience, observers or co-participants p. 14. Part or routine: “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’.” p. 14. “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 kind of audience or to an audience of the same persons.” p. 14.

1 Performances
Belief in the part one is playing
Two extremes: Individual entirely taken in by his own performance Individual acting out a role There is a path in both directions.

Front
Front: “that part of the individual’s performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define the situation for those who observe the performance. [...] is the expressive equipment of a standard kind intentionally or unwittingly employed by the individual during his performance.” p. 19. The standard parts of front: 1. Setting – “furniture, décor, physical layout, ... which supply the scenery, and stage props. [...] Tends to stay put, geographically speaking” – so people have to bring themselves to this place and must terminate their performance when they leave it. There are only few moving settings, i.e. funeral cortege. p. 19. 2. Personal front – clothing, sex, age, racial characteristics, size and looks, bodily characteristics, gestures, facial expressions. May be divided into appearance related to social status and manner related to interaction role. p. 20. We expect coherence between appearance and manner, as well as between these and the setting. p. 22. Tendency: Large number of different acts are presented from a small number of fronts. p. 23. Different routines may employ the same front. “a given social front tends to become institutionalized in terms of the abstract stereotyped expectations to which it gives rise, and tends to take on a meaning and stability apart from the specific tasks which happen at the time to be performed in its name. The front becomes a ’collective representation’ and a fact in its own right.” p. 24.

Dramatic realization
Dramatization of one’s performance: express claimed capacities. The attentive student who wishes to attentive.

Idealization
A part of the process through which a performance is socialized is the tendency of performers to offer their observers an impression that is idealized. There is negative idealization – non farmer Shetlanders wearing crofters’ clothes in public. Idealization involves concealments: 1. incompetent secret activity 2. errors and signs referring to them are concealed 3. the end product is presented 4. physically or otherwise unclean parts of the tasks are hidden 5. public standards will be maintained by the private sacrifice of others – poor quality may be for example better concealed than lack of speed. 6. Idealization of the motives for acquiring the role. pp. 37-40. Idealization of the relationship to the audience: Often they make them believe that 1. this is their only or most important routine; and 2. that the current performance has something special or unique about it. p. 42-43.

Maintenance of expressive control
Minor cues may be accepted by the audience as a sign of something important, but this also implies that the audience may misunderstand the clue. p. 44-45. Cooperation in preventing or covering up minor mishaps. 1. accidental failings 2. problems of involvement 3. inadequate dramaturgical direction p. 46.

Misrepresentation
The sign-accepting tendency of the audience results in expressive care, but also in the possibility of the audience to be duped. p. 51. False front p. 51. Is the person authorized? Impersonation. p. 52. Just as much as the definition of status is not clear cut, impersonation is not either. „Claims to be a law graduate can be established as valid or invalid, but claims to be a friend, a true believer, or a music-lover can be confirmed or disconfirmed only more or less.” p. 53. A clear-cut distinction between true and false is not possible for behaviour.

“some general characteristics of performance were suggested: activity oriented towards worktasks tends to be converted into activity oriented towards communication; the front and behind which the routine is presented is also likely to be suitable for other, somewhat different routines and so is likely not to fit completely any particular routine; sufficient self-control is exerted so as to maintain a working consensus; an idealized impression is offered by accentuating certain facts and concealing others; expressive coherence is maintained by the performer taking more care to guard against minor disharmonies than the stated purpose of the performance might lead the audience to think was warranted. All of these general characteristics of performances can be seen as interaction constraints which play upon the individual and transform his activities into performances. Instead of merely doing his task and giving vent to his feelings, he will express the doing of his task and acceptably convey his feelings.” P.57. BK: We do not know what is real. “While we could retain the common-sense notion that fostered appearances can be discredited by a discrepant reality, there is often no reason for claiming that the facts discrepant witht the fostered impression are any more the real reality than is the fostered reality they embarrass.” p. 57.

Mystification
Audience can be put in awe of the performance. However, often the real secret is that there is no secret. p. 60-61.

Reality and contrivance
These two are not easy to pin down as one would think.

2 Teams
Performance team: “set of individuals who co-operate in staging a single routine.” p. 69. Individual impression, team impression. Team impression for team mates will be different from that for the audience. p. 70. “in many interaction settings some of the participants co-operate together as a team or are in a position where they are dependent upon this co-operation in order to maintain a particular definition of the situation.” p. 79.

3 Regions and region behaviour
“A region may be defined as any place that is bounded to some degree by barriers to perception.” p. 92. Front region is „where the performance is given” p. 93. In the front region performance is such that is made to appear to maintain certain standards, politeness requirements of decorum: Moral requirements which are ends in themselves and instrumental requirements which are not. p. 93. Manner is related to politeness, while appearance is related to decorum. p. 94. Back region or backstage: „a place, relative to a given performance, where the impression fostered by the performance is knowingly contradicted as a matter of course.” Functions may be for example preparation, construction of illusions, rehearsing, relaxation. p. 97. Outside. p. 117. Audience segregation.

4 Discrepant roles
Types of secrets: 1. Dark secrets: facts about a team which it knows and conceals, and which are incompatible with the image it presents to the audience. p. 123. 2. Strategic secrets: intentions or capacities which a team knows but conceals from an audience. p. 123-4. ie. Armies or businesses designing future actions. p. 124. 3. Inside secrets: ones whose possession marks an individual as a member. p. 124. 3a entrusted secrets: the one the possessor is obliged to keep because of his relationship with the team to which the secret refers, a lawyer’s knowledge of a client’s secret, whose disclosure threatens both his trustworthiness and his client’s innocence. 3b free secrets: a secret one could disclose without discrediting oneself.

Discrepant roles with reference to secrets – having access to regions to which they are not entitled to: With one team + audience Informer: comes backstage and then tells the audience. p. 127. Shill: acts as though a member of the audience, but in reality a part of the team. p. 127. Spotter: Quality check, in favour of the audience. p. 128. With two teams + audience The professional shopper: goes to other team with the secrets. p. 129. Go-between or mediator: know secrets from both sides. p. 130. Finally: Non-person, like the servant. p. 132. Other discrepant roles involving persons not present during the performance but who have unexpected information about it: Service specialists, who repair part of the front, the settings or the body. They often possess entrusted secrets. p. 136-38. A special type of specialist is the training specialist. Confidant: outsiders, whose role is gained through this characteristic. p. 139. Colleague: who present the same routine but no participation in common team. They share a community of fate. p. 140.

5 Communication out of character
Treatment of the absent
Performance may make reference to the absent audience in a playful, often derogatory manner. p. 149-154.

Staging talk
Teams tend to prepare for their performance, through gossip and other casual talk. p. 154.

Team collusion
Insider signals, whispering. p. 155.

Realigning actions
--“Each of these four types of conduct directs attention to the same point: the performance given by a team is not a spontaneous, immediate response to the situation [...] constituting [the team’s] sole social reality; the performance is something the team members can stand back from [...] Whether the performers feel their official offering is the ’realest’ reality or not, they will give surreptitious expressions to multiple versions of reality, each version tending to be incompatible with the others.” pp. 181-82. A valóság mint interakció vagyis dramaturgiai előadás többszólamú.

6 The arts of impression management
(It is like a summary of earlier chapters, bringing together the threads.) Preparation for this: The principal types of performance disruptions and how the techniques of impression management are used to avoid them. Types of „incidents”: (pp. 183-86) Unmeant gestures Accidentally entering region of performance. The past life or the appearance of an individual contains dark secrets or negatively valued characteristics: when such facts are introduced, there is embarrassment. the individual may disrupt his own image, or that of the other

“In order to prevent the occurrence of incidents and the embarrassment consequent upon them, it will be necessary for all the participants in the interaction, as well as those who do not participate, to possess certain attributes and to express these these attributes in practices employed for saving the show. These attributes and practices will be reviewed under three headings: (1) the defensive measures used by performers to save their own show; (2) tthe protective measures used by the audience and outsiders to assist the performers in saving the performers’ show; (3) and, finally, the measures the performers must take in order to make it possible for the audience and outsiders to employ protective measures on the performer’s behalf.” p. 186-87.

Defensive attributes and practices
1. Dramaturgical loyalty “if a team is to sustain the line it has taken, the team-mates must act as if they have accepted certain moral obligations. They must not betray the secrets of the team when between performances – whether from self-interest, principle or lack of discretion.” Eg. older family members vs children; servants; members should not put on their own show Techniques against breaking the dramaturgical loyalty, counteracting ties between team members and audience: High in-group solidarity, dehumanizing the audience in the backstage To change audiences periodically later mentions also: Limit the size of group 2. Dramaturgical discipline 3. Dramaturgical circumspection Foresight and design

Protective practices
“Most of these defensive techniques in impression management have their counterpart in the tactful tendency of the audience and outsiders to act in a protective way in order to help the performers save their own show.” The extent of this tends to be underestimated. p. 202. Discretion: individuals stay away from regions into which they have not been invited. Or if they are to enter, they give those inside a warning (knock, cough). Tact.

Tact regarding tact
Audience can warn performer through hints that his show is unacceptable; to these the performer must be sensitive.

7 Conclusion
“A social establishment is any place surrounded by fixed barriers to perception in which a particular kind of activity regularly takes place. ... any social establishment may be studied profitably from the point of view of impression management.” p. 210. “team of performers who co-operate to present to an audience a given definition of the situation. This will include the conception of own team and of audience and assumptions concerning the ethos that is to be maintained by rules of politeness and decorum.” p. 210. Division into back and front region (preparation vs presenting) Access to regions is controlled. Among team members, solidarity, and kept secrets. Typically, tacit agreement between team and audience about the degree of agreement and opposition, of which the former is stressed. Communication out of character. Discrepant roles. Disruptions. Techniques for saving the show are used by both parties, cooperating in helping the others to do so. “characteristic of much social interaction as it occurs in natural settings in our AngloAmerican society” “The framework bears upon dynamic issues created by the motivation to sustain a definition of the situation that has been projected before others.” p. 211. “In recent years there have been elaborate attempts to bring into one framework the concepts and findings derived from three different areas of inquiry: the individual personality, soical interaction and society.” He is contributing to these efforts. p. 213. “When an individual appears before others, he knowingly and unwittingly projects a definition of the situation, of which a conception of himself is an important part. When an event occurs which is expressively incompatibly with this fostered impression, significant consequences are simultaneously felt in three levels of social reality, each of which involves different point of reference and a different order of fact.” p. 213. 1. social interaction – which may come to an embarrassed and confused halt; false not in the situation, whose definition is disrupted. “In other words, the minute social system created and sustained by orderly social interaction becomes disorganized. These are consequences that the disruption has from the point of view of social interaction.” p. 214. 2. beyond action at the moment, more far-reaching: for the self projected, for audience loyalty

3. social structure, but he fails to talk about this one.

Comparisons and study
He suggests comparisons with China.

The role of expression is conveying impressions of self
“Underlying all social interaction there seems to be a fundamental dialectic. When one individual enters the presence of others, he will want to discover the facts of the situation. Were he to possess this information, he could know, and make allowances for, what will come to happen and he could give the others present as much of their due as is consistent with his enlightened self interest. To uncover fully the factual nature of the situation, it would be necessary for the individual to know all the relevant social data about the others. It would also be necessary for the individual to know all the relevant social data about the others. It would also be necessary for the individual to know the actual outcome or end product of the activity of the others during the interaction, as well as their innermost feelings concerning him. Full information of this order is rarely available; in its absence, the individual tends to employ substitutes – cues, tests, hints, expressive gestures, status symbols, etc. as predictive devices. In short, since the reality that the individual is concerned with is unperceivable at the moment, appearances must be relied upon in its stead. And, paradoxically, the more the individual is concerned with the reality that is not available to perception, the more must he concentrate his attention on appearances.” p. 220. “The individual tends to treat the others present on the basis of the impression they give now about the past and the future. It is here that communicative acts are translated into moral ones. The impressions that the others give tend to be treated as claims and promises they have implicitly made, and claims and promises tend to have moral character. In his mind the individual says: ’I am using these impressions of you as a way of checking up on you and your activity, and you ought not to lead me astray.’ The peculiar thing about this is that the individual tends to take this stand even though he expects the others to be unconscious of many of their expressive behaviours and even though he may expect to exploit the others on the basis of the information he gleans about them.” p. 220. The performer may of course try to forge a definition of the situation “Instead of allowing an impression of their activity to arise as an incidental by-product of their activity, they can reorient their frame of reference and devote their efforts to the creation of desired impressions.” P., 221. Makes a difference btw. Social intercourse and task-performance, both of which have their own social rules (standards of politeness and decorum) p. 220. “Because these standards are so numerous and so pervasive, the individuals who are performers dwell more than we might think in a moral world. But, qua performers, individuals are concerned not with the moral issue of realizing these standards but with the amoral issue of engineering a convincing impression that these standards are being realized. Our activity, then, is largely concerned with moral matters, but as performers we do not have a moral concern with them. As performers, we are merchants of morality.” p. 222.

Staging and the self
Self was viewed as a performer and a character: performer who is involved in the fabrication of impressions and stageing a performance and the character whose qualities the performance is meant to evoke. (BK: Performance itself is referring to the wider reality of the self) „A correctly staged and performed scene leads the audience to impute a self to a performed character, but this imputation – this self – is a product of a scene that comes off, and is not a cause of it. The self, then, as a performed character, is not an organic thing that has a specific location, whose fundamental fate is to be born, to mature and to die; it is a dramatic effect arising diffusely from a scene that is presented, and the characteristic issue, the crucial concern, is whether it will be credited or discredited. In analysing the self, then, we are drawn from its possessor, from the person who will profit or lose most by it, for he and his body merely provide the peg on which something of collaborative manufacture will be hung for a time. And the means for producing and maintaining selves do not reside inside the peg; in fact these means are often bolted down in social establishments. There will be a back region with its tools for shaping the body, and a front region with its fixed props. There will be a team of persons whose activity on stage in conjunction with available props will constitute the scene from which the performed character’s self will emerge, and another team, the audience, whose interpretative activity will be necessary for this emergence. The self is a product of all of these arrangements, and in all of its parts bears the marks of this genesis.” p. 223. BK: Ebben a kiemelten kiemelt részben Goffman is megfordítja az érvelés logikáját, és arra mutat rá, hogy az interakcióban kibontakozó, a megvalósuló self, a társas intézmények terméke. “The whole machinery of self-production is cumbersome, of course, and sometimes breaks down, exposing its separate components: back region control; team collusion; audience tact; and so forth.” p. 223. The individual as performer: The capacity to learn (training for the part). Fantasies and dreams, both positive (aspirations) and negative (dreads) Gregarious desire for team-mates and audiences. Tactful considerateness for their concerns. Capacity for deeply felt shame, which leads him to minimize the chances he takes of exposure. P. 224. BK: Ez itt nagyon erős hasonlóságot mutat azokkal az elemekkel, amiket Giddens kiemel az egyén kapcsán. „These attributes of the individual qua performer are not merely a depicted effect of particular performances; they are psychobiological in nature, and yet they seem to arise out of intimate interaction with the contingencies of staging performances.” Admits that the language of stage was only analogy, a rhetoric and a manoeuvre. Funny comment relevant for my approach:

“Scaffolds, after all, are to build other things with, and should be erected with an eye to taking them down.” p. 224. BK: Három fontos eleme a goffmani interakciós felfogásnak: egy fejlődő mini-társas rendszer, a közvetlen interakció, melyben (a) a felek stratégiai céljai és (b) közös helyzetdefiníció kialakítására és fenntartására irányuló törekvések egyszerre érvényesülnek ami egyrészt túlmutat a saját keretein, amennyiben eleve adott és feltételezett közös szabályokra támaszkodik (lásd a) illetve túlmutat a saját keretein, mert a kibomló valóság mellett mindig jelen van egy rész ismeretlen, aminek megismerésére a résztvevők törekszenek, és ez az ismeretlen a résztvevők múltjára (character) és stratégiai céljaira (performer) vonatkozik

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.