What is Jaget och Maskerna? A Review of Erving Goffman's Classic Book
If you are interested in sociology, psychology, or communication, you may have heard of Jaget och Maskerna, or The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, by Erving Goffman. This book, first published in 1959, is a seminal work that explores how people interact with each other in different situations and contexts. Goffman uses the metaphor of a theatrical performance to describe how people present themselves to others, and how they manage their impressions, roles, and identities.
In this article, we will give you an overview of what Jaget och Maskerna is about, why it is still relevant today, and where you can find a PDF version of the book online.
What is Jaget och Maskerna about?
Jaget och Maskerna is divided into six chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of social interaction. The main concepts that Goffman introduces are:
Front: This is the part of the individual's performance that is visible to the audience, such as appearance, manner, setting, and props. Front defines the situation and the expectations of the audience.
Backstage: This is the part of the individual's performance that is hidden from the audience, such as preparation, rehearsal, relaxation, and secrets. Backstage allows the individual to maintain or change their front.
Team: This is the group of individuals who cooperate in staging a performance for an audience. Team members share a common front and backstage, and they use communication strategies to coordinate their actions and avoid mistakes.
Region: This is the physical or social space where a performance takes place. Region defines the boundaries and rules of interaction. Goffman distinguishes between front regions (where performances are given) and back regions (where performances are prepared or relaxed).
Role: This is the part that the individual plays in a performance. Role defines the rights and obligations of the individual in relation to others. Goffman distinguishes between role distance (the degree of detachment or involvement that the individual shows in their role) and role embracement (the degree of commitment or identification that the individual has with their role).
Identity: This is the impression that the individual creates and maintains in their performance. Identity defines the individual's social status and personal characteristics. Goffman distinguishes between personal identity (the unique traits that the individual claims or displays) and social identity (the general traits that are attributed to the individual by others).
Goffman argues that social interaction is a complex and dynamic process that involves constant negotiation, impression management, and face-work. He also shows how individuals can use different techniques to cope with disruptions, challenges, or contradictions in their performances, such as defensive practices (to protect one's own face), protective practices (to protect others' face), aligning actions (to restore one's face), disclaimers (to prevent loss of face), or stigma management (to deal with spoiled identity).
Why is Jaget och Maskerna still relevant today?
Jaget och Maskerna is still relevant today because it offers a rich and insightful analysis of human behavior and communication in everyday life. It helps us understand how we present ourselves to others, how we interpret others' presentations, and how we influence and are influenced by social situations and contexts.
Jaget och Maskerna is also relevant today because it applies to various domains and settings that are important in our contemporary society, such as:
Online communication: The internet and social media have created new opportunities and challenges for self-presentation and impression management. How do we create and maintain our online identities? How do we manage our privacy and authenticity? How do we cope with cyberbullying or trolling?
Workplace communication: The workplace is a place where we perform different roles and interact with different audiences. How do we communicate our professional competence and credibility? How do we manage our emotions and stress? How do we deal with conflicts or feedback?