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Tania Kilin
Immortal since Dec 21, 2008
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I'm not evil, I'm inconsistent
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    Freedom to Perform
    Although it focuses on individual action (so it kinda opposes to my structuralist views of the social world), I find Goffman's interpretation of the human action quite interesting. Those of you who have read Erving Goffman know exactly how "catchy" his sociology is, and those of you who haven't...well I can tell you this: you don't have to be passionate about sociology to enjoy reading his books. Basically what he says is this: the social world is one big stage and we're all actors, we play a role, we fake it. Yes...we fake it, I know those are not his exact words but that's what he is trying to say. He makes a very clear separation between the person we truly are inside, the intimate self, and the person who puts on a show once entering the social "stage".

    So, life is nothing but one big show, and we perform a double role: we're actors but at the same time we are other actors' audience and we choose (see...here comes the freedom part I don't agree with) which character we want to play. When we're surrounded by people, we start to perform, we either play the role of a student, or a lover, a friend, a daughter...we are always concerned about what others see, and in the role we play we try to manipulate their perception of what's really going on (mostly through language) as we anticipate their actions - symbolic interactionism. I think what he is trying to say is that by playing a certain role, we try to impose to other actors our own definition of how the social interaction should take place, that is why we "invent" our roles as we move along in the play.

    Well...what can I say, it's certainly an interesting way of looking at the world around you and I partly agree with him, even if the metaphor is not new (Shakespeare said that life is a stage or something like that). I do agree that we indeed play roles, and some of them are really predictable, but I don't think we choose what role to play, rather the role chooses us. Anyway, one thing I really like in " The presentation of self in everyday life" is when Goffman is trying to identify a few techniques actors use to make their role seem more authentic. One of those techniques is mystification, that is when an actor keeps the distance from his audience, and avoids social contacts on purpose. This way, the audience (that's to say, other actors) see him as unreachable and surround him in a certain aura of mystery...and sometimes the one secret behind all the mystery is that there is no secret.

    Sat, May 30, 2009  Permanent link

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    nom the puppet     Mon, Jun 1, 2009  Permanent link
    this has been very similar to what I've been thinking lately. I love it when ideas spring up in the heads of so many people simultaneously, it's like magic. that's how i found spacecollective :D

    there is one role we play in front of ourselves as an audience of one: that inner monologue.

    I know I have a bad habit applying that 'mystification' technique, but it's the role above that's so confusing. Why are we putting on a show for ourselves? Is it a prototype testing ground for the kinds of roles we play towards others?

    I'll definitely check this out.
    nom the puppet     Mon, Jun 1, 2009  Permanent link
    Thanks a lot for your comment on my posts I really enjoy seeing how ideas come together, and I liked that article on how deterministic people are less likely to help others (it kinda makes sense). As to your question...why do we continue to perform roles when we are the only ones on stage, and the audience is gone. Well there are a few possible answers and you'll find them in the book :D The one I agree with is that keeping the mask when everyone's gone is just another technique actors use to make their role more authentic and it has to do with believing in it, I think Goffman calls it "honest performance".


    welcome then. i found him just now on google books and it looks neat. thank you.


    meganmay     Fri, Jun 12, 2009  Permanent link
    This doesn't follow entirely from Goffman's theory, but I was talking to a friend the other day about how everytime we remember something we are re-remembering, IE we are calling up information from all over the brain and trusting it to be an accurate account of what actually happened. In essence then, we're re-imagining our past as we incorporate new experiences and re-contextualizing this information. If this is the case, if it's a biological function of the brain to constantly re-invent one's past, we might as well have fun with it and embellish the past as we see fit. It's interesting to consider what's possible once you know how to "operate your brain"*

    *Tim Leary





    NOOKANYC     Fri, Jun 12, 2009  Permanent link
    i used to say that being a designer was my acting job!
     
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