Goffman’s account of modification of the “self” through performance
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Berger and Luckmann’s The Social Construction of Reality and Irving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life analyze human interaction in the context of actions we perform and the meanings that such actions take in social environments. I will analyze Goffman’s account of modification of the “self” through performance within the context of Berger and Luckmann’s hypothesis. The theatrical performance metaphor looks at how socialization and experience affect the use of fronts, expressions, and expressions given off.
Berger and Luckmann explain that everyday life presents itself to audiences as a reality interpreted through typifications that constitutes the fabric of social meaning. Goffman focuses on social interactions as dramaturgical performances that exhibit both “expressions given” and “expressions given off” within social sites made up of “front-stage” and “back-stage” environments. In both perspectives, to act solely for the sake of acting is not possible. All actions are social performances that give off impressions of “self” to other actors in society based upon past experiences and typifications.
Berger and Luckmann offer a treatise to the social construction of reality that outlines how we formulate the idea of the “self” in social society and how reality itself is socially constructed. “Knowledge must always be knowledge from a certain position.” It is our social position that guides our perceptions of reality and allows us to embrace our idea of “self” within reality. Everyday life presents itself as a reality that is interpreted by others and is subjectively meaningful because of such interpretations.
Goffman offers the same argument on a micro-sociological level. He claims, “information about the in...
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... we will act as such to keep up the expectation.
Through providing a micro-level analysis of the “self” through theatrical dramaturgy, Goffman supplies an adequate account of how modification of the “self” happens via performance. Taking parallel theories and ideas, each author builds upon the arguments of the other and Goffman provides enough detailed examples of social development through performance to satisfy the treatises of Berger and Luckmann’s account. Therefore, the arguments of Goffman and Berger and Luckmann work best when combined, giving us the most insight into the “self.”
Berger, Peter, and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. 1st ed. Garden City: Anchor Books, 1966. Print.
Goffman, Erving. The Presentation Of Self In Everyday Life. New York, NY, USA: Anchor, 1959. Print.