Part of the SAGE Social Thinker series, this book serves as a concise and inviting introduction to the life and works of Erving Goffman, one of the most prominent social theorists in postwar sociology. Goffman's ideas continue to influence scholars in various fields and have also attracted many readers outside conventional academia. Goffman's overall research agenda was the exploration of what he termed the interaction order—that is, the micro social order that regulates the co-mingling of people in each other's immediate presence. He coined several new concepts (face-work, impression management, role distance, civil inattention, etc.) with which to grasp and understand the complexities and basic social restructuring of everyday life, many of which are now part of sociology's standard vocabulary.

Goffman and the Self

Goffman and the self

In this chapter we will explore and discuss Goffman's view of the self. We will explore how, in Goffman's sociological thinking, the self appears as a highly social product, which is the result of individually staged projections and responses taking place in social meetings as well as of situational and societal constraints. In so doing, we discuss how Goffman's self is intertwined with the interaction order.

A Dualistic View of the Self

So far we have seen how Goffman attempts to develop a theory of interaction between individuals in face-to-face encounters. But even though Goffman was probably primarily interested in understanding the aforementioned interaction order as “a substantive domain in its own right” or as an order sui generis, another ...

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