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Sandi W. Smith, Jina H. Yoo and Joseph B. Walther

Subject Communication Studies » Interpersonal Communication
Sociology » Social Psychology

People Goffman, Erving

Key-Topics self

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


In 1959, sociologist Erving Goffman published The presentation of self in everyday life . The heuristic value of the concepts he introduced in that volume have been wide-ranging, particularly in the field of communication with its focus on the ways that communication is used to establish and maintain relationships. Human desire for contact and companionship require teammates who help to present the self and an audience to react to the presentation. Goffman used the metaphor of a theatrical performance as the basis of his model of the ways that people present themselves to others in work situations. He cautioned that one drawback of the metaphor is that theatre presents situations that are not genuine, while authenticity is present to some extent in everyday life. He does claim, however, that even honest performers must present themselves in ways that avoid discrediting the impression they are fostering in their audience. The driving force behind self-presentation, accomplished by exchanging verbal and nonverbal messages during ongoing interactions, is to present to and gather from others information that will help ascertain what can be expected in particular social situations, as people present or infer the ostensible character of the self or the other. The concept of working consensus was introduced by →  Goffman to define situations in which people work together to enact a situation ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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