Sociology Sample Questions
|Answer the following questions:|
1. According to Goffman (1959), how do individuals who are interacting with one another achieve and maintain a common definition of the situation?
2. What is “the front” and what are the two parts of it?
3. What did Goffman (1959, p. 35) mean when he says that performances often present an “idealized view” of the performer and/or situation? What is an example of idealization in the reading?
4. What did Goffman (1959) mean by the terms maintenance of expressive control and unmeant gestures? What is an example?
5. What did Goffman (1959, p. 75) mean when he wrote “To be a given kind of person…is not merely to possess the required attributes, but also to sustain the standards of conduct and appearance that one’s social grouping attaches thereto”?
6. Think about how Goffman’s dramaturgical theory can be used to analyze your everyday life. What is a part that you play on a regular basis and what are the various elements of your performance of this part?
When in a group of people, an individual may express themselves in ways that may intentionally or unintentionally convey a certain impression. This impression may in turn lead the other individuals in the group to make their own conclusions regarding it, thus achieving and maintaining a common definition of the situation.
The front is an essential part of the performance of the individual that serves to explain to the observers the actions that can be seen by the audience. The two parts of the social front are the setting and the personal front. The setting generally describes the scenery that must be present while the personal front refers to the equipment or items that are needed for a performance to occur.
Goffman means that individuals tend to portray certain values of the society, as accurately as possible, through their performances when he says that performances often present an idealized view of the performer. This is usually because the audience usually already has an idea of what they should expect. For example, an individual may choose to stay away from the party.
During a performance, minor events may occur that fall out of the scope of the performance. In such a situation, the performers try as much as possible to show little or no impression in order to stay in character, thus, maintaining expressive control. By unmeant gestures, Goffman refers to the actions made by a performer that may otherwise be unintended like tripping or forgetting their lines.
Goffman tries to explain that for an individual to bring out their part in a performance, one must walk, talk, do and even live in the way of the part given. Only by doing this, are they able to connect with their roles, and with the observers.
Goffman’s dramaturgical theory brings up the idea that our lives are likened to that of performers on a theatre stage. Therefore, depending on the audience, an individual’s performance may differ. I, for instance, come out as a very quiet and meek student when in class whereas my friends find me very loud and otherwise, bold. In this case, I apply impression management.
Goffman, Erving. The presentation of self in everyday life. 1959, New York: Anchor Books. Print.
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