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.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering when this book was published... the 50's. Psychology books are tricky because they become outdated within a few years. This is interesting to me, though, since I'm taking a class (Psychology of Personality) this semester that deals directly with this topic. We actually just covered the whole "we act differently in different situations"... however, his assertion that we do so to keep our "real" personality from getting out is absurd and outdated... it sounds tremendously Freudian. They've since then found that people usually have a standard personality, only different ASPECTS of that personality come out in different situations. For example, while eating with your friends you might be really extroverted and want to talk a lot about what's been going on in your life, and your friends would say you're a very outgoing and talkative person. However, when sitting in class, or church, or at work, you might be quiet, hardly commenting at all, and people who see you in that situation would not say you were extroverted at all. But you would personally say "I'm extroverted... I just want to learn, or want to concentrate on what I'm doing, so I stay quiet so I can work/listen." It doesn't mean your personality changes based on situations, it means that your personality manifests itself in different situations. Likewise, I don't talk to my parents the same way I talk to my friends. Not because I'm trying to be a different person, just because I have different levels of respect for my friends than I do for my parents. My parents probably think I'm a different person than my friends do, just because I know some things I do offend my parents, either due to them being older or them being more traditional than me, and so I don't act that way around them. :P

    There's an equation for this... haha and I'm only yammering on about this because I'm excited that I learned something... we actually went over this just like two days ago, and learned about the different theories for it and etc. :) Some people do hold to the idea that we have a personality that hides itself or manifests itself in different situations becuase it's afraid of itself... but modern research is kind of going a different direction than that, so... I dunno. I personally agree with the modern stuff, just because I determine "personality" based on what's going on in my head. My thoughts, my way of thinking, etc... which typically remains constant even though I don't say everything I think. :) I'm still thinking it, and I feel that that is my true personality.

    This was sorta long. Sorry! I'm a psych major, and I'm really interested in this stuff, haha.