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The Presentation of Self in Contemporary Social Life

The Presentation of Self in Contemporary Social Life

May 2016 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The Presentation of Self in Contemporary Social Life covers the popular theories of Erving Goffman, and shows modern applications of dramaturgical analysis in a wide range of social contexts. David Shulman’s innovative new text demonstrates how Goffman’s ideas, first introduced in 1959, continue to inspire research into how we manage the impressions that others form about us. He synthesizes the work of contemporary scholars who use dramaturgical approaches from several disciplines, who recognize that many values, social norms, and laws have changed since Goffman’s time, and that contemporary society offers significant new forms of impression management that we can engage in and experience. After a general introduction to dramaturgical sociology, readers will see many examples of how Goffman’s ideas can provide powerful insights into familiar aspects of contemporary life, including business and the workplace, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and the digital world.

Author's Note
Chapter 1 Self-Presentation and The Dramaturgical Perspective
Introduction: “Being Yourself” Is a Performance Too  
So Why Study Dramaturgy?  
Getting Down to Business  
The Scholarly Provenance of Dramaturgical Ideas  
Analyzing Dramaturgy  
Erving Goffman and Dramaturgy  
Goffman’s Six Principles of Impression Management  
The Self  
Symbolic Interactionism  
Chapter 2 Persona Watching: Catching Impression Management in Action
Introduction: Reverse Engineering Dramaturgy  
Regions, Actors, Performances: Some Service Examples  
Thinking of Performances as Cumulative: Social Order, Norms and Roles  
Ratcheting Up Sociological Analysis with Dramaturgy  
Chapter 3 Sociological Influences on People’s Performances
Introduction: Learning How to Act in Everyday Life  
Social Structural Forces that Impact Dramaturgical Actions  
Think of Social Forces as Interweaving Clusters  
Realizing the Analytic Potential of the Dramaturgical Perspective  
Nine Contributions A Dramaturgical Approach Can Make to Enhance Sociological Thinking  
Chapter 4 Modern Life as Show Business
Introduction: The Thicket of Unreality  
Examples of Unreal Images: Illusions, Photos and Word  
Can You Detect Unreality?  
Causes of Unreality: Extravagant Expectations and Pseudo-Events  
Image Life as Performance  
The Economics of Unreal Performances and Consumerism  
Las Vegas Casinos as “Cathedrals of Consumption”  
Consuming Experiences, Theming and Enchanted Products  
Dramaturgy: The New Means of Consumption  
Marketing and the Dramaturgical Legibility of Themes  
Dramaturgical Inequalities: Gender, Goffman and Advertising  
Chapter 5 Dramaturgical Involvements in Popular Culture
Introduction: Dramaturgical Involvement in Popular Culture  
LARPS: Live-Action Role Playing  
Engrossment in Popular Culture Experiences  
Dramaturgical Residency  
Face-to-Face Interaction  
Surpassing Performance Limits in Fantasy or “Killing S**t” in Made-Up Worlds  
Role Distance and the Actualization Gap  
Frames: A Social Phoropter  
Am Extended Case of Frames and Dramaturgy: The World of Professional Wrestling  
The Horror Genre, Stigma and Frame Traps  
Conclusion: Conflating Reality and Fantasy  
Chapter 6 The Internet: Society’s Newest Stage
Introduction: The Internet, Disembodiment and Networked Audiences  
The Collapsing of Front and Back Stage Contexts  
Exploring Online Deviance  
User Generated Content: Everyone’s a Star, Everyone’s a Critic and I’m Into Documenting My Life Onstage  
Internet Ranting and Impression Management  
Stigma and Cyberbullying  
New Capacities to Stigmatize  
Moral Entrepreneurs  
Stigma Specialists Online: Mocking and Trolls  
Performance Online Versus Offline  
Altering Performance Content  
Deceiving Others Online and Strategic Interaction  
Deception in Online Dating and Romance  
Virtual Role Engulfment  
Filter Bubbles  
Chapter 7 Workplaces as Stages
Introduction: Dramaturgy in Organizations and Workplaces  
Performance Teams: Dramaturgical Circumspection, Discipline and Loyalty  
Organizations and Order  
The Dramaturgy of Meetings  
Contemporary Takes on Dramaturgy in Organizations  
The Interaction Order and the Negotiated Order  
Asylums and Secondary Adjustments  
The Dramaturgical Infrastructure  
Total Institutions  
Emotional Labor  
Key features
  • The book provides an overview of Goffman’s dramaturgical approach and many of its fundamental concepts: frames, stigma, definition of the situation, front and back stages, role distance, communication out of character, interaction rituals, etc.
  • Chapters focus on the application and contemporary relevance of this theoretical perspective to different areas of modern life.
  • One entire chapter (Ch. 7) is devoted to the Internet, society’s “newest stage.”
  • Specific applications of dramaturgy include:
    • How businesses and marketers apply theatrical techniques to appeal to and persuade consumers to buy.
    • How digital technologies have produced new forms of interaction and communication, such as catfishing, texting, online dating, and trolling.
    • Fantasy and role-playing activities in everyday life.
    • Impression management in workplaces.
  • The author’s note identifies the chapters in which specific concepts associated with dramaturgical sociology are covered.
  • To facilitate further engagement with these ideas, the book includes a glossary of impression management terms and techniques.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

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