Analysis of Goffman Claims





Analysis of Goffman Claims

In his philosophy captured in the book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman argues that human beings express a wide range of theatrical presentations that are manifested through face-to-face interactions. He proposed that when encountering another person, individuals tend to influence or direct the impression being formed by the other person through changing his own location, facade, and manner. Simultaneously, the recipient of this performance also attempts to create an impression for himself or herself even as they attempt to acquire additional information. Additionally, the theory proposed that participants in social contact indulge in specific practices to reduce embarrassing situations. Society is not consistent; human beings need to behave differently in different contexts. This was the foundation of Goffmans’ claims. However, he delivered these related concepts using the example of a drama performance. He referred to people as actors performed for the audience. He also created a backstage, a place where people acted normally and shed their societal identities.

Claim Seven

One of Goffman’s basic claims, number seven, argues that human identities are neither particular nor constant; they are modified in appropriateness to changes in the circumstances. When an individual’s setting has changed significantly, there is a consequent shift in their personal presentation likewise in order settle in their new environment. This is clearly evident and observed as a new appearance of changed signals from the individual. Proving this argument demands a real life illustration in which I was involved. In the course of my internship at Exxon Mobil, my field supervisor, Matt, was notorious for enforcing strict regulations and discipline aboard the offshore rig. These values were exuded through her body language and approach – with a straight stance and a stern face while surveying the general area. While working aboard the rig, he never exchanged small talk, jokes, or work humor. In all his actions, it was clear that he was trying to show the rest of the pharmacy that he was a serious employee based on the signs and facade he produced. Matt always ensured that he wore the standard overalls, goggles, gloves, and boots at all time regardless of the location and task. When talking to his subordinates, Matt always made sure that he was composed and distant from his juniors. He achieved this by standing on the first floor railing while making announcements and reviews to the rest of the employees. His permanent demeanor was always official in whatever he did. When dealing with conflicts in the office, Matt also showed extreme executive behavior that was standard in all his interactions. All his letters and official communication were written in a concise and direct. He always went straight to the point and avoided any small talk after the main discussion was complete. His character within the office as well as the rig was cold and unresponsive towards most social issues that were not directly related to the company. It was as if he had signed a contract to dedicate his life to serving the company’s needs. This aversion towards socialization combined with his preference for complying with regulations created a very strict mood. He had very little friends mainly because he always stuck to discussing official matters while in social circles.

Claim Five

The fifth claim proposed that the unconscious mind regularly works constantly at the same time that the conscious mind operates. The unconscious mind works to establish the most beneficial presentation of an individual that can be achieved. This ideal self normally involves creating a new image that can be positive or negative. In this claim, Goffman brings out the significance of the subconscious mind. I have had several encounters with other people in which I have experienced this claim in real life. The receptionist at our university had a very heavy workload especially in the initial years after being recruited. It involved typing and creating documents for the dean, being sent on errands and making publicity speeches on behalf of the institution. In the process of making speeches for the university, Fatima the receptionist was always forced to make declarations that conflicted with her faith and personal beliefs. She was a staunch Muslim working in a Christian setting under intense pressure. One of the challenging instances that illustrate the way in which the subconscious mind works is when Fatima was giving a speech on campus security and the current problem with national security. At a certain point, she was reading her speech on the recent ISIS attacks and she had to quote a sentence that defamed the Islam religion. While reading this specific sentence, I was able to notice the association between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Her conscious mind was firmly fixed on delivering the speech on campus security. She acted like a real professional and remained calm while delivering her arguments on the need to watch out for the Muslim community. However, her subconscious mind was definitely thinking about other things. She was thinking about how the tight security measures were oppressive to her people. I know this because when she finished reading the speech, she accidentally said, “Muslims were humans who deserved equal treatment lest they protested and attacked Americans”. The subconscious mind is responsible for recent recollections and forms a constant contact with the unconscious mind. Human beings store recollections and past knowledge in the unconscious mind regardless of the fact that they are repressed through a deliberate effort and trauma. Some of these have been forgotten because of their insignificance. The memories form people’s attitudes, habits, and beliefs. In the example, Fatima had memories of her heritage and community that influenced her actions and habits. This influence was clear in the conclusion of her speech where her subconscious mind took over temporarily. The unconscious mind continuously communicates with the conscious one using the subconscious. Therefore, regardless of the fact that the conscious mind is powerful and used most of the time, it is not fully in control. On rare occasions, other influences such as emotions and other forms of strain can trigger the dominance of the subconscious. In conclusion, the analysis on Goffman’s school of thought revealed several key answers into the way human beings related with each other. Many of the factors in his theory provided an explanation for the way people acted when they encountered other individuals across different settings. Human beings change the way they behave in a very complicated manner. In the process of encountering different people and settings, humans influence the behavior of each other. The next claim covered the way in which the unconscious mind regularly works constantly at the same time that the conscious mind operates.


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