lecture022410 - Soc 101: Introduction to Sociology (Carr)...

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Soc 101: Introduction to Sociology (Carr) Wednesday February 17, 2010 I. Presentation of Self. This concept refers to our efforts to manipulate others’ perceptions of us. Self-presentation refers to “all our attempts, both conscious and unconscious, to control the images we project in social interaction.” The concept was first proposed by Erving Goffman (1959) in his groundbreaking book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. It was here that Goffman first proposed the notion that in everyday social interaction, as individuals present themselves and their activities to others, they attempt to guide and control the impressions that others form of them. Moreover, actors employ certain “techniques” in order to sustain their performance. Impression management refers to the specific type of self-presentation tactic used. A. Components of Goffman’s Theatrical Metaphor 1. Front. The front is the expressive equipment that we intentionally or unwittingly use in presenting ourselves to others. When we decide to interact with others, and present ourselves in a suitable way, there are certain components necessary for each such interaction. a. Setting. This refers to the spatial and physical items of scenery that we employ in staging our performance. Goffman argues that these settings provide basic guidelines for our behavior, and hold subtle cues about how interactions should proceed. For instance, he argues that the physical arrangement and props of a doctor’s waiting room succeed in defining the situation as one in which the patient should respect, honor, and defer to the physician. The waiting room often has props (such as nice furniture, high-brow magazines, etc.), that convey the status of the doctor. In the doctor’s office props such as diplomas and family photos convey messages of both competence and trustworthiness. b. Appearance refers to personal items that identify an individual. These items can be costume, hair style, etc. c. Manner refers to those expressions that reveal the performer’s emotions and disposition. As a rule, people choose to “show themselves” in a way that is consistent with their overarching goals. For example, “emotion rules” dictate the type of emotions that individuals should display to one another in order to achieve a desired outcome. Criminals who show remorse and sadness and use a soft kind tone of voice, for instance, may be granted more lenient sentences.
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2. Regions. Goffman describes social interaction as occurring in two regions: the front and the back. These two areas, envisioned as front stage and backstage, invite and allow for very different kinds of behavior. The front stage, as in a theater, is where people display their best behavior and present themselves as respectable, good people. Back regions are generally private regions that are inaccessible to outsiders. Front stage is often created via team work, such as husbands and wives, or co-workers. Active impression management occurs in the front
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This note was uploaded on 11/20/2011 for the course SOCIOLOGY 920:101 taught by Professor Carr during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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lecture022410 - Soc 101: Introduction to Sociology (Carr)...

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