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First published by the University of Edinburgh in 1956 and reprinted in the United States in 1959, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life offers a comprehensive sociological framework for understanding day-to-day interactions. Erving Goffman posits what is now called a "dramaturgical" view of society, framing social behavior as a series of theatrical performances by individuals and groups. At its core, the book is based on Goffman's extended observations of the small Scottish island community in which he did his doctoral fieldwork. There, Goffman was able to immerse himself in the social dynamics of a small and close-knit community, yet The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life also draws illustrations from a broader range of social settings, from the office to the hospital to the living room. By the time of Goffman's death in 1982, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life had been translated into 10 languages and, in the United States, was frequently used in undergraduate sociology courses. Goffman's theories concerning the "stagecraft" of everyday social life have been elaborated and challenged by later critical theorists, most notably German sociologist Jürgen Habermas (b. 1929).
At the time Goffman wrote, much sociological research dealt with social relations in highly structured environments, such as hospitals and military units. In this book Goffman instead focuses on "everyday" social settings—offices and households, for example—and the interactions these environments fostered.
This study guide for Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.