Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Presentation of Self In Everyday Life by Erving Goffman
This book is a difficult read. I have found it one of hardest since 'On the Road' to get my head around; yet I don't like giving up on books just because they're hard. Erving Goffman covers a lot of facets about the human mind and how we have a personality for each part of lives; from our lovers to our parents, our friends, relatives and even when we go out to a restaurant, we put on another personality. It's all about making sure our true one doesn't get out and ruin things. But then, there's people who don't restrain their true personality and that's where others think they're either asking for trouble or they're 'free spirits' and wish to be like them.
Seeing I'm barely halfway through it, I won't make a judgment on the book just yet. However, if you want a challenging read, this is definitely a good choice; but it's also brilliantly researched and I'd like to know more about his footnotes (this is probably why it's taken me so long to read this book!).
I received this book from a person overseas thinking it would be a really good psychology book to zip through; seeing that I've read a couple of them, I kind of thought it would be easy. But I was mistaken. I've had this book for over a year and I'm hardly halfway through it. I call this my 'bus stop book'... a book to read while waiting for the bus. It's not boring, but it's not so great I get lost in it and forget the bus is coming.
Erving Goffman received his bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto in his native Canada in 1945. His master's and doctorate were granted by the University of Chicago in 1949 and 1953, respectively, where he studied both sociology and social anthropology. While working on his doctorate, he spent a year on one of the smaller of the Shetland islands gathering material for his dissertation and his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959; which is available in at least ten different languages and has been almost continuously in print. In 1958, Dr. Goffman joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley and was promoted to full professor in 1962. He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 where he became the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology. In 1977 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Just prior to his death, Goffman served as president of the American Sociological Association in 1981-1982. Dr. Goffman's primary methodology was ethnographic study, observation and participation rather than statistical data gathering, and his theories provided an ironic insight into routine social actions.