Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the multiple "self"

Goffman viewed social life as if it was a play and we were the actors following social roles as if they were a script (Allan, 2008). This dramaturgical perspective, as he called it, interprets our behavior as one which we use to create a certain impression or impressions about ourselves in the minds of others using both verbal and non-verbal cues (Allan, 2008). We aim to project these impressions to our audience to instill in them a certain belief about us so as to elicit a certain behavior from them. This “act” may change according to the persons we are surrounded by or holding an interaction with; it is not really consistent all the time. There could be a question that arises from this change in role: “When are we our real selves?” According to Goffman’s view do you think we can have many "real selves"? Or do we actually have a central or main “self” but we show different aspects of it to different people or groups of people? What do you think?

Allan,K. 2007. The Social Lens: An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.


  1. I believe individuals possess a central self and exhibit certain aspects within particular settings. Given settings differ in purpose, an individual cannot perform every act s/he possesses. Nonetheless, consistency continues to retain importance. That is, a "single discordant aspect [may] disrupt a performance" to the detriment of the individual (Ritzer 2008). Thus, individuals have need to "maintain a stable self-image" but may also engage their spontaneous self if given the opportunity (Ritzer 2008).

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  3. In a play, actors pass on to an audience a particular impression of the world around them. Goffman says there is a front stage, which people are normally on and then there’s backstage, where we can just be ourselves no audience is present. Our lives are daily performances, like right now I’m engaging in a performance I’m sitting at home reading blogs and deciding which ones I want to respond to, so that I meet the minimum requirement for class. Because I’m at home once I log off the computer, I’m taking the backstage. When I wake up in the morning and leave my house my performance will begin again. When actors take up a role it may be somebody they don’t want to be but they do it anyway because at the end of the day once they leave those doors so is the role they were playing. So in regards to multiple self’s, no I don’t think we have more then one because there is only one self and it is waiting behind stage.