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The private and the public in online presentations of the self: A critical development of Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Erving Goffman is an important sociologist whose dramaturgical perspective on social interaction and presentation of the self is a classic within sociology. However, social interaction and presentations of the self occurs increasingly more online. Goffman’s perspective is, unfortunately, limited to face-to-face interaction. The aim of this study is to discuss how far Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective can take us in a discussion on the private and the public in online presentations of the self in Facebook and personal blogs. The aim is specified with the following research questions: What are the possible constrains and possibilities? What happens to the central concepts in the model? How can the model be critically developed to online presentations of the self? The discussion connects to the distinction between the private and the public, as it implicitly is presented in Goffman’s model.

The discussion draws on empirical material consisting of reflections of ten individuals on their social practices on Facebook and personal blogs. As all respondents use both applications, it opens up for a comparison between how they present themselves in each forum.

All respondents presented themselves differently on Facebook compared to their personal blogs. Goffman’s model works better on self-presentations on Facebook than on personal blogs, which are contradictive to the model. Facebook is about staging a successful character. Conversely, the idea with the personal blog was to stage the front stage as a backstage. Performances on the personal blog constitute an inverted model where the intimate is sublimated and ritualized. Additionally, impression management follows an altered logic of selective opening of the backstage. However, the performances are just as, if not even more, theatrical and dramaturgical as performances in Goffman’s model. Moreover, social situations on Facebook and personal blogs are dissimilar to face-to-face situations. Both settings can be seen as an abstract sociability rather than a concrete sociability. There is no immediate co-presence between the interactants which has the consequence of creating an uncertainty of in front of whom the performance actually is held, which in addition makes the social situation diffuse, scattered and harder to define.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 50 p.
Keyword [en]
Goffman, Presentation of the Self, Private, Public, Mediated Interaction, Facebook, Personal Blogs, Social Media, Impression Management, Backstage, Front Stage, Performance, Rituals
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-59867OAI: diva2:431462
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2011-09-06 Created: 2011-07-19 Last updated: 2011-09-06Bibliographically approved

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