A modern day examination of the public presentations of self in daily life.
Erving Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life will serve as the backbone to my Portfolio project. Published in 1943, Goffman's sociological investigation relies on theatre as a vehicle for an extended metaphor to discuss self-presentation, or an individual's "performance." Performances, for Goffman's study, are defined through face-to-face interaction and rely upon a performer making certain requests of his audience, namely that they believe what he is performing. Social interaction, therefore, is key in defining one's performance. Goffman writes, "To stay in one's room away from the place where the party is given, or away from where the practitioner attends his client, is to stay away from where reality is being performed" (36). Keeping all of this in mind, I am interested in investigating the modern ways individuals modify-- or completely alter-- their daily performances.
In a world that is image obsessed and a nation which has recently become "make-over" crazed, thanks to TV shows like "What Not to Wear" and "The Pick-Up Artist," Goffman's concept of "performance" as opposed to a natural personality, seems more relevant than ever.
Some of the questions I'd like to answer include what are the motivations for modifying a performance, how does a person go about such modifications (through classes, research, surgery?), what are the results, and how do such modifications alter a person's day-to-day life? Moreover, while stories about plastic surgery or extreme body modification are examples; I'm also interested in modifications that are less tangible, such as accent reduction or adopting another personality, in the case of pick-up artists. Through this sociological lens, I hope to explore a number of topics surrounding
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