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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars full of useful insights
This book was first published in 1959 but it has not dated at all. It is a fascinating read. Goffman explains how every social transaction can be viewed as a performance. We all create and give out impressions to others. We also learn how, in life, to control and consciously alter the impressions we give out. Groups or teams of people co-operate in order to shape the...
Published on 26 May 2006 by Luke Dunn

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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Goffmans Self in Everyday Life
I had to write a book review on this particular book and to be honest found it a very difficult read at first. However, i persevered and by reading round and other commentators on Goffmans work I have found it to be insightful in how I now look at individuals - he is right - we are all actors - THE DRAMATURGICAL SELF:
PLAYWRIGHTS - They create their own Social...
Published on 19 Nov. 2007 by Kathryn Wilbraham


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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars full of useful insights, 26 May 2006
By 
Luke Dunn (Ramsgate, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
This book was first published in 1959 but it has not dated at all. It is a fascinating read. Goffman explains how every social transaction can be viewed as a performance. We all create and give out impressions to others. We also learn how, in life, to control and consciously alter the impressions we give out. Groups or teams of people co-operate in order to shape the impressions and interactions of the team. Interpretations of situations are radiated and conflict or consensus is managed. There are plenty of wide ranging examples of how the 'dramaturgical perspective' works, from waiters in restaurants to lawyers in court. This book changed my life and helped me see that experiences of intense embarrassment or shame are common consequences of our need to maintain face and manage personal presentation in the play-act of life. Also discussed are regions, roles and con-tricks. All the world's a stage and we are merely players... just don't hide behind the mask more than you need to!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drama, poetry and reflection on social interaction, 5 April 2013
By 
A. O. P. Akemu "Ona" (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
Erving Goffman's theoretical framework in this book is breathtakingly simple: modern social interaction is like a stage performance. Social interaction takes place within a social establishment (a place surrounded by fixed barriers to perception a.k.a. the theater) and includes a team of performers (actors) who cooperate to present to an audience a given definition of the situation. The stage for this interaction is divided into a front region (which the audience sees) and a back region (hidden from the audience). The actors and the audience tacitly agree to act out roles - doctors and patient, lawyer and client, waitress and patron etc. The implication of his framework is that the individual self is not a constant, unchanging entity. Instead, the self is multifaceted, morphing to suit the stage performance and thereby creating social order. Goffman illustrates the framework by drawing examples from his research in the Shetland Islands and other social science research on such topics as the women's role in the home and on race relations in the U.S. South.

Despite the range of his model, Goffman is critical enough not to take the dramaturgical metaphor too far. Though he draws on research on Indian and Chinese societies, he does not pretend that his framework is culture-free. He understands that his framework may be applied - at least as presented in this book - to 'Anglo American society' (pg 244; 1959 edition). According to Goffman, his model may be more applicable to Western societies because 'we live an indoor social life. We specialize in fixed settings, in keeping strangers out and in giving the performer some privacy in which to prepare himself for the show' (pg. 236). He also admits that the language of drama is contrived and in some ways is not as real as 'real life' where successful staging of performances can lead to serious consequences for the 'actor' and 'audience'.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a very readable book. Even though Goffman's writing style is too turgid for my tastes (he excessively uses the third person singular pronoun and the passive voice), I still enjoyed reading the book. (Afterall the book was first published in 1959.) By deploying a simple metaphor to analyze micro-level social interaction, Goffman demonstrates his mastery of social observation. Furthermore, by reflecting on his framework, he exemplifies what Andy Van de Ven (2007) calls engaged scholarship. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life deserves to be the classic that it is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Structure of the Self, 13 July 2013
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
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 ideas and terms favorable to the performer,much like a customer/salesman relationship.
The text never gets too complex or academically involved,but retains an intelligent air that ensures you do not become jaded with the fact that many of the observations are now common knowledge.That said,the book is still relevant as many of the themes are timeless and will exist as long as the human need to cooperate and coexist remains.
The quote I liked most was 'The more the individual is concerned with a reality that is perceptively unavailable,the more he relies on appearances' which seems to sum up the hollow world of neurotic pretence and juvenile ostentatious display that we suffer from today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, insightful but cynical, 29 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
A very interesting book about the gap between our public and private selves. Quite amusing on the subject of what we now might call 'marketing' or 'PR'..Goffmann calls it impression management.

The sardonic cynicism can get a little disturbing to the extent that Goffmann does not focus on how humans in public roles might sometimes act in an authentic and empathetic manner.

He discusses individual and cultural performances and impression management in team /regions.

A welcome antidote to the naivety about social life that is apparent in so much therapeutic literature...
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, 4 Nov. 2006
By 
Mr. M. J. Bowen "middle name : NR" (some NOT RANDOM room) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
This is a very interesting book which reminds me of Satre's Being and Nothingness and also the work of the Situationists. It is distinct from these works in that it focusses on social role-playing from a expressily "theatrical perspective" - using notions of front/backstage to distinguish between performances made for "audiences" (in the broad sense of "people around you") and the prepartion of these shows. Highly Recommeneded!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goffman's great, 20 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
Erving Goffman has a wonderful writing style, it's a poetic approach to academic literature. I personally find this approach refreshing and enjoyable, although it may not be to everyone's own taste especially considering the analogies which he uses could be considered 'dated'. Although a sociological study, I am a linguist so of course this book is very good to tie into most things identity related. I recommend his work on FACE if you're reading into work on identity construction and would like a more linguistic approach.

The book itself is easy to read, a nice solid (semi-laminate) cover and was in excellent condition (new).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody should read this book, 23 April 2010
This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
...especially if they are always being given duff advice. If anybody tells you to "Just be yourself!" and "Be spontaneous", take a hardback copy of this book and beat them over the head, repeatedly. Goffman observes people's behaviour and reports back that all day, every day, everybody is calculating and foresightful, is acting a part and speaking from a script, is adopting a carefully constructed persona and imitating those around him. What really puzzles me, though, is why they lie about it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Goffman is brilliant, and I personally love his presentation of self ..., 9 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
Goffman is brilliant, and I personally love his presentation of self theory. The book was a great read if you are interested in why people act the way they do around different people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 12 May 2015
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
Fantastic text on an important subject
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5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed it. Still non the wiser, 7 April 2015
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This review is from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) (Paperback)
Yes, enjoyed it. Still non the wiser
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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology)
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) by Erving Goffman (Paperback - 27 Sept. 1990)
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