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Institutions And The Self Essay

2564 words - 11 pages

Do the institutions that deal with people with social and personal problems always act in the interests of those they serve? Discuss through the ideas of Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault.
This essay will concentrate on the works of Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault. Erving Goffman is seen as the sociologist of the micro level and Foucault at the macro level. What this essay will aim to do is to distinguish the works of both these sociologists and identify the concepts that both try to portray.
When speaking in relation to the works of Erving Goffman, one must speak about his studies of the self and the identity that one creates in society. He speaks of how people are ...view middle of the document...

This is all the information that one will seek out from another to make a verdict of that individual.
Goffman (1959) elaborates that such information is sought after as it facilitates someone, in advance, to know what reaction will come from an individual in certain circumstances and what style of communicative processes are needed to get a response. Such identities are created through performances that the individual uses to portray themselves to others (Goffman 1959).
It is argued by Goffman (1959), that the basis of one’s identity is created through a compilation of theatrical performances. When such performances are being carried out, a person has a belief of the part being played. Goffman (1959) states that an individual, when playing the role or giving the performance, is requesting the awareness of others to take the act seriously in their observation.
Furthermore, it is argued that these people, the observers, are asked to believe that the performer does posses the attributes they see before them. An extreme of this is that the performer actually believes that the act is reality but on the other hand they could feel that the act has no meaning (Goffman 1959). It is within such extremes that actions are up for judgment on whether or not they are real.
As performance is a main discussion of the work of Goffman, the elements of his work need discussion, which is mainly known as dramaturgy. The first element of such dramaturgy is the “front”. According to Goffman (2009), the front is used to describe the performance that is regularly seen by the audience, which its purpose is to define the situation in a predetermined manner (Goffman 1959). It is elaborated that the front includes personal features such as the dress of the person, their age, whether they are male or female, the nationality or race and also looks, attitude and job rank held (Goffman 2009).
Dramatic realisation is the element that Goffman (2009) describes as the way in which the performer portrays themselves in the presence of an audience. It is used so that the performer can articulate themselves, in a way which the information they wish to furnish is expressed (Goffman 1959).
Goffman (1959) showed in the front how people were creating objectives to portray their individuality to others. With idealization, comes another element of performing. It is described by Goffman (2009) that individuals have a side to them that they do not want others to perceive, thus systematically hiding such aspects of their life. Furthermore, Goffman (1959) states that when an individual is presented to others, the performer will integrate the means and morals of the society present, into the performance. What is key to such a performance, is maintaining it.
Maintaining the integrity of the self is important (Goffman 1959). The integrity of an individual can be brought into disarray, when a mishap occurs during a performance that destroys the credibility of the individual...

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