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Goffman and the online world

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Goffman and the online world Approaching Goffman's Presentation of Self
Duncan Chapple
Who?
Erving Goffman ‘22-’83
Important, long-lasting impact
Field work mid-century in Shetlands
Became interested in micro-sociology
What’s happening in the kitchen




Goffman describes the offline world
Social interaction: “that which uniquely transpires in social situations—in environments in which two or more individuals are physically in one another’s response presence.”

Situation: “any physical area anywhere within which two or more persons find themselves in visual and aural range of one another.”
Framework
The stage
Helps understand what’s happening
Belief in the role one is playing
Impression management
Character is the process added to individuals to turn them into persons
Masks
Status
Setting: the spaces are controlled
Appearance: non-verbal communications
Manner: also shows status and comfort





Framework
Dramatic realisations
In the present of others, there are signals and signs
Dependent on setting
Members stress their habits and routines

Idealisation
Individuals incorporate and exemplify officially accredited values
Our own intentions are idealised: we think we are meeting society’s expectations


The debate: Is Goffman’s framework still applicable to the online world?
The stage
Status
Dramatic realisations
Idealisation

Comparison of different views on the contemporaneity of Goffman’s ideas

Rethinking central assumptions of Goffman
Global situations (e.g. foreign exchange market) change forms of the Goffmanian interaction order
New concepts needed to explain global situations
Synthetic situation: People received by machine (phone etc); no co-location
Time transaction: Asyncronous

Globally-oriented interactionism abandons assumptions of Goffman
Physical presence
Focus on human interaction and human mutual monitoring
Local focus of a situation


What constitutes global and synthetic situations?
Global situations are synthetic situations... “that include electronically transmitted on-screen projections that add informational depth and new response requirements to the “ecological huddle” (Goffman 1964:135) of the natural situation”

Synthetic situations are defined as… “an environment augmented (and temporalized) by fully or partially scoped components—in which we find ourselves in one another’s and the scopic components’ response presence, without needing to be in one another’s physical presence.”



In-depth look at synthetic situations
Different types of synthetic situations involve different systematics of reciprocity, accountability, rule-governedness etc.

Features of synthetic situations
Informational (perhaps less contextual, more on the matter at hand)
Temporal nature
Symbolic interaction partners (participants interact through symbolic ‘faces’ of both individuals and also the ‘collective’ as a mar

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Goffman and the online world

  1. 1. GOFFMAN AND THE ONLINE WORLD APPROACHING GOFFMAN'S PRESENTATION OF SELF Duncan Chapple24.03.2015
  2. 2. Who? Erving Goffman ‘22-’83  Important, long-lasting impact  Field work mid-century in Shetlands  Became interested in micro-sociology  What’s happening in the kitchen
  3. 3. Goffman describes the offline world  Social interaction: “that which uniquely transpires in social situations—in environments in which two or more individuals are physically in one another’s response presence.”  Situation: “any physical area anywhere within which two or more persons find themselves in visual and aural range of one another.”
  4. 4. Framework  The stage  Helps understand what’s happening  Belief in the role one is playing  Impression management  Character is the process added to individuals to turn them into persons  Masks  Status  Setting: the spaces are controlled  Appearance: non-verbal communications  Manner: also shows status and comfort
  5. 5. Framework  Dramatic realisations  In the present of others, there are signals and signs  Dependent on setting  Members stress their habits and routines  Idealisation  Individuals incorporate and exemplify officially accredited values  Our own intentions are idealised: we think we are meeting society’s expectations
  6. 6. The debate: Is Goffman’s framework still applicable to the online world?  The stage  Status  Dramatic realisations  Idealisation
  7. 7. Comparison of different views on the contemporaneity of Goffman’s ideas Knorr Cetina (2009) • Globally-oriented interactionism challenges Goffman‘s approach • Mostly based on researching global foreign exchange market Bullingham & Vasconcelos (2013) • Goffman‘s orginial framework is still applicable to the online world • Based on research in the context of blogging and second life
  8. 8. Knorr Cetina (2009) • Globally-oriented interactionism challenges Goffman‘s approach • Mostly based on researching global foreign exchange market
  9. 9. Rethinking central assumptions of Goffman  Global situations (e.g. foreign exchange market) change forms of the Goffmanian interaction order  New concepts needed to explain global situations  Synthetic situation: People received by machine (phone etc); no co-location  Time transaction: Asyncronous  Globally-oriented interactionism abandons assumptions of Goffman  Physical presence  Focus on human interaction and human mutual monitoring  Local focus of a situation
  10. 10. What constitutes global and synthetic situations?  Global situations are synthetic situations... “that include electronically transmitted on-screen projections that add informational depth and new response requirements to the “ecological huddle” (Goffman 1964:135) of the natural situation”  Synthetic situations are defined as… “an environment augmented (and temporalized) by fully or partially scoped components—in which we find ourselves in one another’s and the scopic components’ response presence, without needing to be in one another’s physical presence.”
  11. 11. In-depth look at synthetic situations  Different types of synthetic situations involve different systematics of reciprocity, accountability, rule-governedness etc.  Features of synthetic situations  Informational (perhaps less contextual, more on the matter at hand)  Temporal nature  Symbolic interaction partners (participants interact through symbolic ‘faces’ of both individuals and also the ‘collective’ as a market)  The synthetic situation’s response system  Response presence: we are responsible for prompt responses  Intensity: strong mental and physical connectedness (swearing)  Preparedness: the capacity to respond reflexively, automatically
  12. 12. Territoriality of copresence vs. temporal aspects of interaction  “When interactions migrate online, for example, the interacting parties meet in time rather than in a place; for that reason, response presence becomes important, and temporal rules of coordination begin to matter”  Goffman’s idea of time supposes that consequences are not immediate.  The casino gambler’s later regret  Today: scopic systems let us see data, which capture outcomes. Ultrasounds assess the fateful categories.
  13. 13. Why global situations are not agglomerations of encounters  “Institutional interactions require, specify, and develop temporal coordinates connected to the substance of what these institutions do—a point not lost on Goffman and other interactionists and microsociologists who have analyzed institutional spheres”  E.g. A global currency market cannot be explained with Goffman’s original framework
  14. 14. Bullingham & Vasconcelos (2013) • Goffman‘s original framework is still applicable to the online world • Based on research in the context of blogging and second life
  15. 15. Goffman’s framework is of value for understanding online identities  Online environments  provide their users with the potential to perform and present different identities  can be seen as stage whereas the offline world is the backstage  Avatars are used to emphasize or minimize certain aspects of the self  Multiple use of avatars reflects Goffman’s idea of adopting multiple identities in everyday life  Bloggers might mask their identities  Methodology  Semi-structured interviews with participants who were either bloggers or SL users  Grounded Theory used for data analysis
  16. 16. Recreatingtheofflineself online Themes emerged & research findings Expressions given  Females express their feminity using various methods  Appearing to be fun vs. appearing professional  People display different graduations in expression Embellishment as minor form of persona adoption  Storytelling  going back in time Dividing the self  Only some aspects of the offline self are presented online  Some parts are emphasized, some are minimized (‘partial masking‘) Conforming and ‘fitting in’  Bloggers do not feel the same pressure to conform as SL users do Masking, anonymity and pseudonimity  Fear
  17. 17. Presentation of self in the online world is in line with Goffman‘s ideas  People are keener to recreate their offline selves online than to adopt a different persona  Disparity between offline and online selves is minimized
  18. 18. Implications for research  Is the ‘managed’ online persona authentic  Is the ‘managed’ online persona any more or less authentic than the offline one?
  19. 19. Find out more Christian Hampel, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Duncan Chapple, University of Edinburgh Erving Goffman’s work on the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life inspires a sociological and psychological approach towards the construction and materiality of actors’ behaviours. Through a series of interviews with industry analysts in the information technology and telecommunications industry, we develop a conceptualisation model that relates impression management in two contexts: “pitch” meetings (the formal oral presentations to analysts which are a primary input to the research process), and the diffusion of analysts’ insights (where successful research impact is subject to both oral and online self-presentation). ​ 4pm March 31, UEBS
  20. 20. Resources  Knorr Cetina, K. (2009). The Synthetic Situation: Interactionism for a Global World. Symbolic Interaction 32, (1): 61-87  Bullingham, L., Vasconcelos, A.C. (2013). ‘The presentation of self in the online world’: Goffman and the study of online identities. Journal of Information Science, 39 (1): 101– 112
  21. 21. Background: Goffman expanded. backup
  22. 22. Analogy: the stage Helps understand what’s happening ● Belief in the role one is playing o Asking observers to take you seriously o Ask them to accept players’ attributes ● Character is the process added to individuals to turn them into persons ● Masks
  23. 23. Status Growing concerns about what status means. ● Ascribed by others, achieved by self, master Key concepts ● Front o Setting: the spaces are controlled o Appearance: non-verbal communications o Manner: also shows status and comfort Interesting to consider, for example, selfies, or gendered settings like doctors and nurses
  24. 24. Dramatic realisations In the present of others, there are signals and signs ● Dependent on setting ● Members stress their habits and routines On a mass setting, these provide infrastructre for “the fantasies of a nation” ● What habits does facebook give stress to?
  25. 25. Idealisation Individuals incorporate and exemplify officially accredited values. Our own intentions are idealised: we think we are meeting society’s expectations. Some roles are seen as selfless

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