AS Communication and Culture Key Theorists

Goffman, Dimbleby and Burton, Rogers,etc.

  • Created by: Otter
  • Created on: 17-05-11 17:48

Erving Goffman

Goffman sees self-presentation in six aspects or key elements, all of which are related in some way to the idea of life as drama:

  • Persona
  • Performance
  • Staging
  • Teams
  • Role
  • Personal style
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Self-presentation implies that our interactions with the world are largely conscious attempts to influence other people.

In his important book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life (1990), Erving Goffman offers what is described as a dramaturgical model of self-presentation, in other words one that sees self-presentation as a sort of extended dramatic performance for which we prepare and at which we constantly work.

As Goffman himself claims, ‘life itself is a dramatically enacted thing’.

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Kuhn and McPartland -1954

 In 1954, American theorists Kuhn and McPartland indicated that ‘definition by role’ becomes more prominent as we mature.

They found that the main difference between 7-year-olds and undergraduates was in the proportions of ‘social roles’ and ‘personality traits’.

On average 7-year-olds recorded five social role statements while the undergraduates recorded ten.

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Kuhn and McPartland

This suggests that as we get older we progressively describe ourselves in terms of the jobs we do or status we have.

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Gergen and Gergen

  • Identified the various ways in which we protect ourselves from negative feedback.
  • These so-called ‘self-maintenance strategies’ are really a series of dissonant responses for keeping our idea of the self intact.
  • Mix with like people.
  • Mix with people of lower status or ability.
  • Change our behaviour to conform to norms.
  • Form low opinion of detractors.
  • Disbelieve what others say.
  • Misunderstand negative feedback.
  • Consciously evoke response.
  • Selectively evaluate self.
  • Self-handicapping.
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Dimbleby and Burton - 2006

Dimbleby and Burton (2006) identified four key factors in the creation of a sense of self.

Three are directly concerned with the relationships we have with others:

  • Reactions of others
  • Comparisons with others
  • Identifications with others
  • (The fourth is the roles we play).
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Carl Rogers - 1961


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Rogers (1961)

  • Rogers (1961) would see in role-modelling evidence that we have a number of layers or levels of self-consciousness.
  • The modelling of ourselves in terms of other, often public and famous people, is part of a process that creates, presents and maintains our own ‘public self’.
  • This ‘public self’ is a significantly more superficial version of the self than the one we ‘show’ to close friends and family, let alone the ‘core’ self that remains with us at all times.
  • His concentric circle model shows the interconnectedness of these ‘selves’.
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Coopersmith - 1967

  • Coopersmith (1967) defines self-esteem as ‘a personal judgement of worthiness’.
  • In other words self-esteem is a currency of self-regard: it measures and records how good you feel about yourself.
  • High self-esteem is obviously aided by such socially valuable attributes as physical athleticism and/or attractiveness, but it is most significantly helped by the respect of others.
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Raymond Williams

  • Raymond Williams reffered to ‘dramatised’ society in the 1980s.
  • He meant that we tend to see ourselves and others as if we were all characters in a story.
  • In this way we learn the language and other codes through which we are expected to understand and talk about ourselves
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Matthew Arnold

  •  Matthew Arnold - thought ‘high’ culture was good for you.
  • ‘High’ culture displayed intelligence, beauty and perfection.
  • Said '(culture is) is best which has been thought and said.'
  • Worried about the decline of morals in an industrial age
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Frank and Queenie Leavis

Frank and Queenie Leavis (1930s/1940s).  

         Defended the ‘cannon’ – the best books and music          you could select.

         Hated mass media/communications.

The Leavises were not just in favour of the canon, they were very distinctly against popular culture

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Gracie Power


Thanks for the clear and concise notes

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