Social Interaction: Goffman and the Social Experiment

In: Social Issues

Submitted By mer3588
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Social Interaction: Goffman and the Social Experiment
In “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”, Erving Goffman expresses his views on social interaction, analyzing many different key aspects that formulate an individual’s role and manner throughout the act of expressing himself in the presence of others. Goffman compares the difference between “the expression that he gives, and the expression that he gives off”, explaining that these two concepts involve significantly differing actions, but both provide a way in which others develop an impression of the individual (pg. 103). All individuals have the control, to some extent, to conduct themselves in such a manner in which they want others to perceive them, influencing others' impressions of him and setting the stage for the way in which others will react towards him. Communicated accurately by Goffman, humans can act in many ways to convey certain aspects of his self, which in more cases than not, are somewhat manipulative, strategic, and contrived. The individual is capable of hiding things from the audience in a social encounter, and can exaggerate and emphasize other aspects that he would like others to concentrate on. These pre-formulated performances of the individual are sometimes quite necessary for the well being of certain social situations, because complete honesty can occasionally cause disruptions and uneasiness. As stated on page 105, Coffman defines the use of preventive practices and techniques to avoid embarrassment and offensive situations as “defensive practices” and/or “tact”. For example, when socializing with a group of people who share opposing religious views, the individual is likely to know not to converse about his own religious views in the same way that he would talk with his friends from Church, but rather use a more central point of view and a more open minded manner.
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