Viata cotidiana ca spectacol - Recenzie in limba engleza

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The book "The presentation of self in everyday life" written by Erving Goffman, was published in 1959 and treats a sociological theme by comparing the life with a theater and made a portrait to the human importance. The society isn`t a homogeneous creation, we must act differently in different situations. In the center of his analysis is the relationship between performance and stage, taking into account all its elements: an actor performs in a frame, which consists of the stage and the backstage, and he is assisted by the public but at the same time itself becomes its public audience : "The perspective employed in this report is that of the theatrical performance; the principles derived are dramaturgical ones. " .
The book starts with a nice statement written by George Santayana and I consider it significant for the theme of the book : "Masks are arrested expressions and admirable echoes of feeling, at once faithful, discreet, and superlative. I would not say that substance exists for the sake of appearance or faces for the sake of anything else; all the phases and products are involved equally in the round of existence..." After that we can read the preface, where the lecturer can read about the principal ideas of the book and then the "Introduction "from where we can learn interesting things : "When an individual enters the presence of others, they commonly seek to acquire information about him or to bring into play information about him already possessed.[...] Information about the individual helps to define the situation, enabling others to know in advance what he will expect of them and what they may expect of him. Informed in these ways, the others will know how best to act in order to call forth a desired response from him.  " Continuing this idea, the author says that we send only those impressions which we want that others have about us, in a theater, involuntarily assumed.
The book has seven chapters but I preferred to pay more attention to "Perfomances". These "performances" are defined by being "all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in any way any of the other participants". When someone performs, exists two extremes: the first one when the individual entirely taken in by his own performance and he is sincere and the another extreme is when the individual acting out a role, this one also can be named as being cynical, when he "has no belief in his own act and no ultimate concern with the beliefs of his audience".
I really liked the examples given by Goff man, regarding the performances, when a person wears a mask and about the roles we play. There are two examples. The first one is about a married couple of crofter origins who owned a hotel on an island and they had to renounce to their conceptions, displaying in the hotel a full round of middle-class services and amenities. But in the same time they seemed become less cynical about the performance that they stage; they themselves are becoming middle class and more and more enamored of the selves their clients impute to them.
The second example regards a "raw recruit who initially follows army etiquette in order to avoid physical punishment and who eventually comes to follow the rules so that his organization will not be shamed and his officers and fellow-soldiers will respect him".
This chapter is divided in more parts. The first one is "Front". The front is defined by "that part of the individual's performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define the situation for those who observe the performance.". The standard parts of the front are: 1.setting-"furniture, decor, physical layout,which supply the scenery, and stage props.[...] Tends to stay put, geographically speaking."; and 2. personal front - clothing, sex, age, racial characteristics, size and looks, bodily characteristics, gestures, facial expressions.


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Bibliografie

Goffman, Erving (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life (1-47). University of Edinburgh, Social Sciences Research Centre
Goffman, Erving (2007) Viata cotidiana ca spectacol (45-102). Bucuresti : Comunicare.ro
Missana, Sergio. The presentation of self in everyday life by Erving Goffman. [Online]. Available at http://ishkbooks.com/presentation_of_self.pdf.  [Accessed at January,18 of 2012].
Wikipedia. The holocaust. [Online]. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust . [Accessed at January, 19 of 2012].


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