Performances in Society


-Goffman, Erving. (1973). Performances. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The Overlook Press, 41, 249-254.


-Jiang, Y., Jiang, J., & Ishida, T. (2009). Compatibility between the local and social performances of multi-agent societies. Expert Systems with Applications, 36(3), 4443-4450. doi:10.1016/j.eswa.2008.05.006


I found Goffman’s chapter on performances to be very interesting. I never thought about how in every situation we behave a different way that is seen as acceptable for that circumstance. He says that we take on a character or role and put on a show for “the benefit of other people.” We act a certain way in order to make ourselves fit in the way society wants. The most interesting part to me was the idea of front stage and back stage. Front stage is the idealized personal front we put out for everyone to see and backstage is the concealment from the “audience.” I definitely show more of myself to some people than to others based on how they will react and how much I know them. The concept of masks was also addressed in this article as Goffman said that we have different faces and roles. It was really intriguing when he said that one mask can get ruined by another meaning that sometimes your roles can be competing or conflicting. This made me think of when I am with my friends I act and speak different than when I am around my grandparents or other adults. Even though I am not a “fake” person or deceiving, everyone subconsciously has multiple roles that they can’t help, it is just how we react to events throughout our days.

I found a peer reviewed article about compatibility between performances by a few authors (cited above) and I found their article by Yichuan, Jiuchuan, and Ishida to be interesting also. That article discusses the conflict between roles and performances that Goffman also talks about in “Performances.” I found this to be thought provoking because it showed that we have to find a balance between our roles that make up what we see as our usual self. The second article I found discussed how we adopt an average social strategy to have a unified social role and behavior. I don’t think I am too different around various people which shows that I want my roles to be compatible, which both articles would agree are important.

Another concept Goffman and the three authors is how we portray ourselves in a role. We want to be portray ourselves in our ideal way, to have the world see us as our best possible self. Goffman says we have a human self and a socialized self by playing a chosen character and idealizing our passions.

Both articles discussed really interesting concepts about performances. It made me think more about how I act to keep an image and keep the “audience” happy with my “performance.” I think I am generally a genuine person and my different roles stay pretty true to my actual self. The performances are just different versions of me based on the situation I am facing. I enjoyed the articles and it made me think more about people and how society can affect how we act.