A study of human behavior in social situations and the way we appear to others. Dr. Goffman has employed as a framework the metaphor of theatrical performance. Discussions of social techniques are based upon detailed research and observation of social customs in many regions.
ronald, October 14, 2011 (view all comments by ronald)
Sociologists have long had a reputation of being poor writers. This probably goes back at least to Talcott Parsons, who was full of jargon, discursive, unintelligible, and dismal. However, Erving Goffman is not only a sociologist with something profound and eerie to say, but one of the most distinctive stylists in the English language. He is everything Parsons was not. No one can duplicate his style, which is direct, sublime, and diamond-like. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was his first book and probably his masterpiece. It has never been out of print and has been continuously assigned to college students since its publication in 1959. It should not be read only by students. I have read it at least three times.
The book is difficult to describe. Goffman uses seemingly mundane (but fascinating and often funny) examples from everyday life to show how we act as if on a stage with roles to perform and many ways of performing them. It makes its points as much from Goffman's unique style as from what he leaves out (namely any discussion of whether there is anything more to face-to-face interaction than the comic-drama we act in). Summaries cannot do it justice. Be prepared for a wild ride, and, if you're sensitive, and willing to apply Goffmanesque insights to your own interactions with others, your I.Q. will increase by several points at least. You certainly will never experience human interaction the way you did before you read this amazing work.
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