Book Review; Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Richard Devine's Social Work Blog

By Richard Devine (22.05.2020)

Introduction

Erving Goffman’s 1956 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is considered one of the most important sociological texts of the twentieth century. His work is often a staple part of the social work curriculum. Goffman invokes language and imagery derived from theatre. This functions as an effective analogy to illustrate the different roles different individuals play in different settings and the use of props and setting to facilitate the expression of those roles. This terminology whilst highly effective on an analogical level can perhaps create the impression that his ideas are somewhat superficial. However, his ideas have considerable depth, both sociological and psychological and deserve serious consideration.

Performances, Idealization and Teams

Perhaps the most succinct summary his ideas is a quote he offers from Robert Ezra Park;

‘It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first person, is…

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