Goffman is known in academic social theory circles for his study of symbolic interaction, which took the form of dramaturgical analysis. One of his earlier books The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956) captures Goffman’s approach to the study of society. Gofffman’s work lies in the area of the sociology of everyday life, social interaction, social construction of self, social organization (framing) of experience, and particular elements of social life such as total institutions and stigma. Other major works include Asylums (1961), Stigma (1963), Interaction Ritual (1967), Behavior in Public Places (1963), Strategic Interaction (1969), Where the Action Is (1969), Frame Analysis (1974), Gender Advertisements (1979) and Forms of Talk (1981).
There was a film, Pacific Heights, (1990) with Michael Keaton. The premise was a yuppie couple buy a new house and remodel it, but have to cover costs by renting out the basement room. Keaton rents the room, and turns out to be a psychopath. This bit of neo-noir is illustrative of the shift in p.o.v. I’m speaking of. Had this film been made in 1947, the house owners would have been the psychopaths I suspect, and working class renter the protagonist. The establishment reinforces and actually creates the terms of class perception. The degree of its effectiveness is obvious, in that even as a housing crisis grips the country, the sympathies will lie with authority. That is how propaganda works. That the US as a country can display so little compassion, collectively, for the victims of drone attacks (as a recent example) speaks to the internalizing of this ‘presentation of self’.
Self Presentation is part of the Self Concept and Impression Management theory. Impression management (IM) theory suggests that any individual or organization must establish and maintain impressions that are compatible with the perceptions one wants to give to the public. From both a communications and public relations viewpoint, the theory of impression management suggests the vital ways in which one establishes relationship between personal or organizational goals and their intended actions which create public perception. The idea that perception is framed around the presumption of other’s perceptions of you becomes the reality from which we form ideas and the basis for intended behaviors. In the theory propounded by Erving Goffman in his book – ‘The Presentation of Self’ he talks about the individuals’s management of self presentation to the world which continues to grow into a whole field of strategies for managing others impressions of ourselves through socio/psychological approaches. He suggests of building an impression of oneself by adjusting our own behaviour to obtain that sociologically accepted image of ourself in the public.