I decided to go with the sociologist Erving Goffman’s theory of how in certain social situations, we are all like actors and actresses playing a role, referred to as impression management. He sought to describe and explain the aspects of interaction in a consistently sociological matter. He called his research, or his field, “interaction order”. (Smith 1999). Erving Goffman used symbolic interactionism in his studies, his theory is that we all act differently in different settings.
A person has the ability to chose the person that they want to present to certain social groups. A person can be an actor or actress, yet can also be their own “audience” at the same time. Goffman referrers the ability as using “front-stage ” and “back-stage” behavior as we create identities to fit into social groups, and often present different identities in each social or group setting. Impression management is used as an attempt to influence perceptions of oneself to others. I believe that this sort of imagery goes hand in hand with Edward T.
Hall’s theory of everyone using proxemics in social interactions. As stated in Introduction to Sociology, people are more comfortable having family and friends physically close when interacting in social settings. (Vissings 2011). There are three setting in which a person will use this impression behavior in. The main setting that a person will use this sort of impression management is in the work life. A person will present an image to those that they work with, that they probably, and more likely, do not show with their family and close friends.
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A person can use this sort of behavior to set an image of oneself to the people that they work around. If you want to get to a management position, a person who has no history of a leadership skill, can mimic a manager they work with, and can use what is called impression construction. (Dubrin 2010). A person is motivated by their desire to create a positive image, and take the steps to create a identity to fit the role of their desired status in the work environment.
Using the example of wanting to become a manager, a person can work with their manager to learn the skills that they need, or can research the description and requirement to fit the role, and set in motion the steps to get to that status, using impression management. I have personally learned over the years at my company what it takes to be a leader for a team. I expressed my eagerness to learn more at my company to my manager who in return set me up for training in all departments that are available in my work site.
I can successfully run a call, set up a call, book a call, trouble shoot a problem within a conference call, and can escalate and resolve issues on a managers level. I am able to help my fellow agents on Web calls that they are not familiar with, and have the credentials to log into the Admin sites and create or amend accounts. I am not a manager, at this point I chose not to be one, but I do have the ability to run a team, update agents on new information, as well as train anyone who comes to the floor.
I have built my own professional impression that I present to those I work with, and agents from all over the site will come to me for help. I have made myself an asset to my company, and during lay off’s at the end of last year and early this year, I have survived because of my ability to keep things running. A person can also build a social impression on the internet. On Facebook to be precise. A person can project an image of their lives by certain posts, by their involvement in certain Events that are posted, and through pictures.
I know of plenty of people that I work with that are on my face book that I know professionally, and see the different image that they project at work, and the one that they project online. A person who joins Facebook for the first time has to fill out some information about themselves. A person can be real and present their true selves, or they can use the impression behavior and look at other friends profiles and see what they have created on their accounts; and try to fit in by making their information match those of their peers.
The pictures that a person posts of themselves, can signal meaningful things about themselves, either on purpose, or inadvertently. Media social standards emerge as people learn to read cues or signals from the Facebook “environment” and learn what behavior is involved with the social network, and either conform to what everyone else is doing, (acting) or present their true selves. For example, a person who was never popular or well liked in schools, can set up a profile on Facebook showing a life that is perfect, when in fact it isn’t, thus having created a false impression that they present to those from their past.
A final setting that a person can use impression management is within their family. And I don’t mean close relatives who can pop in and really see what is real and what is an act. There are certain family members in my life that live far away from us, who like to project to everyone that their family is perfect, marriage is perfect, children are perfect. And while we aren’t there to really see what is fact or fiction, we know that they aren’t perfect. But, the image that they want for family not near them, is that they are living the good life, while drama and conflict rules every where else.
These relatives will put on a front that shows that their life is better than ours, when we know that the oldest went to prison, and we know that the middle son got into trouble with the law repeatedly. They have went so far as to stay off of any social media sites where any of their family members could view their life, and have decided that they were no longer a part of the family name that they came from, and have more or less disowned the rest of us.
But, it doesn’t bother me because I know the hard work I’ve put in to make my life a good one, its hard, but I have no shame in the things I have been through, because I have overcome them and learned from them. Erving Goffman’s theory is evident in everyday life, we all play a role of some sort, and sometimes a person can lose who they really are by pretending to be someone that they aren’t. I can relate to his theory, because I have had experience in every example that I have given, and know that this is truly a man who pegged the way that people act at home, socially, and at work.
References Smith, Greg (1999) Goffman's Patrimony : Studies in a Sociological Legacy. London, GBR, Routledge Publisher. Retrieved from site. ebrary. com DuBrin Andrew (2010 ) Impression Management in the Workplace. Research Theory and Practice. Retrieved from books. google. com Boyd, Danah. (2007) “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life. ” MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning – Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Volume (ed. David Buckingham). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Vissing, Yvonne (2011) An Introduction to Sociology
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