Ervin Goffman's Sociological Theory

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Ervin Goffman's sociological theories were considered to be one of the most irrational theories of his time but now are one that people of today study intensely. Maybe, not as intensely as the founders of sociology, Marx, Durkheim, or Weber, but according to Elliot and Lemert in the book “Introduction to Contemporary Social Theory” (2014:188) he is considered to be America’s most original and literary social thinker. And according to Fine and Manning, he is “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century” (Ritzer, 2003:34). His work was inspired by the works of Mead, Simmel and Durkheim and received many diverse and extreme responses (Baert and Carriera da Silva, 2009:91). He has a more contemporary approach to society and…show more content…
In theatrical terms, front stage is where the performing actor is in the front and has most of the audience’s attention. It’s also important that when the actor is at the front of the stage that it conveys their character properly as all the attention is on them. Well, in sociological terms, Goffman is saying the same thing. Goffman is basically saying that we act differently when in social settings than when we are alone (Goffman, 1959:114). By this, he means that the individual wants to give off a certain image, or is institutionalized to act in a certain way, to the others in front of them when in specific situations. “When an actor takes on an established social role, usually he finds that a particular front has already been established for it” (Goffman, 1959:37). A specific situation, for example, being, when one has an interview for their dream job. This individual will present themselves differently than they would do when they are just being with their friends and portray themselves differently when alone. They would accept everything that comes their way, the colleagues, the boss, the workload etc. whether bad or good. Goffman describes this as actors wearing masks and playing a range of parts. In everyday life we wear masks and we adapt who and what we are depending with who we are interacting with (Goffman, 1959:30). For example, when bumping into someone from different social groups one might want to hide a part of their life but might also want to emphasize another part of their life. When we are in social settings, this is the front stage. One might say they enjoy going to museums just to give the impression that they’re intellectual and smart when actually they don’t enjoy going to museums, they do that to impress the person they’re with for them to like them. Therefore, Goffman believes that there’s no true self as we’re constantly being someone we’re not. That a

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