In who perform individual roles and make

In the text below I am going to introduce a famous
sociological theory called “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by
American sociologist Erving Goffman, considered by some “the most influential
American sociologist of the twentieth century”. His work aims to cover sociology
of everyday life, the social construction of self and social interactions,
which we are going to describe in detail in the following paragraphs. Even
though it may sound abstract, the reality
is completely different. People experience the theory in every situation they
go through.

If we want to simply summarize the main principle of
this whole theory, it will be a statement that all people play roles all the
time. Generally, the world is defined as a big theatre, where people are
performers who perform individual roles and make impressions based on
situations they are currently in. An important notice is the fact that everyone
can play any role, it depends just on the performer’s skill, the current situation,
and the audience. As I mentioned above, the person can use many distinct roles,
every role has its own pros and cons in a concrete situation. Furthermore,
people, who have lots of activities, must deal with lots of roles. In most cases, the chosen role is the most suitable one,
but only in eyes of the performer. There is no rule that the role performed by
the performer is accepted by the audience and that it is the correct one. There
exist many factors which together make the role successful or denied.

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Actors try to convince observers to take the current
role as the real behavior. They usually
offer their performances and put on their show “for benefit of other people”,
or for themselves. However, there are two extreme ways how actors can do their
shows. Firstly, performers are fully into their role and there is nothing that
can reveal it is not a reality. Ordinary people would never guess it is just a role because they don’t have any sociological degree so that they could understand the
meaning of scene they experience. We talk about “the sincere performer”. On the
other hand, we find that the performer might not be taken in at all. It can
happen, because sometimes the performer just cannot reproduce the play as it
should be, or just does not want to, because of some hidden intentions. The
individual, who does not persuade the audience, is named “the cynical
performer”. Additionally, besides these
two types there is also the third one, what is the person who does not perform
anything, but still has deep knowledge of the real performer’s behaviour,
understands it, and can expose compromising information, which can destroy the
whole performance; for instance, consultants, mediators, messengers, confidants
and so on. A good example is politics, where is up to politicians to secure
their confidential information among many consultants and partners. There is
usually some kind of deal, which is advantageous for both sides.

Undoubtedly, apart from the performer himself, massive
impact on the result has the location where the performance is being made. The basic definition is a setting, defined as a
location, a scenery, and props of place where interaction is being taken. A
correctly chosen setting influences the result how the audience understands the
performance. Furthermore, in the setting,
there are many usable items which the performer can apply in the role, with
that using of items the performance gets a significant improvement.

Even though the setting is appropriately set, the trustworthy appearance must support the
outcome. The appearance consists of the performer’s visible details; for
instance, a look, gender, age, clothes. Normally, the performer conforms to an
ordinary appearance, but sometimes he may decide to provide something special
and unique, but there is a risk of being denied by the audience, which does not have to understand the appearance

Alongside the setting and the appearance, very
important is to express the role in the correct way. That is called a manner,
the way how performers present their role to the audience (aggressively,
defensively, calmly, …). There should be a connection between appearance and
manner, otherwise, it can confuse the
audience and lead to rejection of the performer’s role. A wrongly selected
manner can totally destroy the whole performance, because the audience do not
have to understand why the performer chose the selected one. In contrast, some
situations need a special approach to be even possible to handle.

The setting, the appearance, and the manner are
connected via front, what is an impression or image given to the audience. If
we think about it, it is the performance itself. We should take a close look at regions. We mentioned the first region
called “front” above. Performers play roles and the audience watches. When
performances are done, performers go to the off stage, where they can meet with
the segmented audience, especially small groups of a few people. Performers
behave somehow between their front and back
stage behavior. The back stage represents the place where
performers are out of reach of the audience, so performers can relax and spend
the time out of their role.

There exist many predefined scripts how the performer
should behave, rarely the performer invents something purely new. Some of these
scripts are so well-established that the individual does not have to create a
unique script and can choose one of them. The using of predefined scripts is an
advantage for the performer because the
audience actually knows how to interpret the received performance and how to
react properly. As a result, the performer has an easier role, but it also limits
the borders of the role. If he wants to make his impression special, he can try
to use some kind of unusual enhancement of the role, but it also can slip away.
Although the performer might be understood as a leader and that the audience
must adapt to them, it is not always true, because in the real world there are
situations when a different approach is more beneficial. Listening to the
audience can significantly increase performer’s outcome of the situation because the performer can react to
the response from the audience and change the performance to be even more
accurate. Sometimes performers are forced to this behaviour, but it is still
better for them instead of a rejection, since it could have a horrible effect
on their comfort.

We can provide a situation
when raw recruits come to an army and execute orders not to be punished. They
wait for their opportunity but have to tolerate aggressive behavior from more experienced soldiers,
nevertheless, later they gain their desired goal. The audience becomes the
leader, even though the recruit is still the performer. That leads us to an idea that the performer and the
audience can easily swap their positions in the performance, thus theoretically
both sides are performer and audience at the same time. It is up to the point
of view how we interpret these sides, but usually the second side is simply
always the audience to the performer, at the same time this audience is the
second performer in this relationship, although only in a passive way.

All mentioned things above can be summarized into a
very common example. Let’s imagine a situation of the mother, who is subordinated to her boss at the workplace, but at home, she becomes the leader of
her family. She completely changes her role to the most suitable one. The
family members expect predefined behavior.
A setting is very different to her work, but the most notable difference is
normally in a manner because the family
requires a peaceful and loving environment, which can be distinct from the
workplace. As a result, the mother adjusts her role to what she needs in a
concrete situation, she also adjusts her behavior
and manners.

We talked about all conditions and options how the
performer can or should behave in given situations. However, not always the
audience accepts the received performances as they are meant. Sometimes
performances might be misunderstood. It’s up to the performer to make the
performance convincing. As well as many learned roles can provide a very good
preparation for every situation the performer can occur in, there is a huge
risk, when the performer is not enough strong to handle all distinct roles. Even
though it is not clear at first glance, changing roles is very often much more
dangerous than reducing the number of roles to the required minimum. It can
help to manage every situation, but sometimes performers might be tired or just
not in the shape, then there might appear situations, when they decide to use
the inappropriate role, the extreme manner, the improperly selected appearance,
or the performance simply might not fit into a current setting. There exists no
rule how to avoid these situations, they can occur anytime, but great performers are able to handle this kind of
situations. As I mentioned above, a good mood and a decent shape are required
to show the powerful performance. If one thing misses, then the performer is
predisposed to make the mistake easier. Naturally, the audience does not
forgive fatal mistakes, such as big lies or cheating. Yes, sometimes the
performer must use lies, or it can help to make the performance even more
beneficial, but there is a condition that the audience cannot discover them.
Otherwise, it can be almost unreal to get the audience’s trust back.

We talked about the predefined scripts. The audience
always has expectations and awaits behavior
in accordance with predefined scripts. Scripts relate to predefined locations
where the performance is being taken. An unusual location can lead to a
misunderstanding by the audience. Expectations in these situations are based on
peoples’ experience. If the people went through a concrete situation, then they
keep that moment in their mind and they compare later. Just try to remember
when you were a child. You did something wrong and you knew that you must tell
your parents. You expected some kind of behavior
because you had already experienced that situation.  Furthermore, in this example, we can see one more demonstration of the theory. In this
situation the child is prone to be simply thrown off balance when parents
change their manner to the special one, which the child did not expect.

Moreover, a significant difference between a
predefined script and the performance can lead to a rejection by the audience.
Performers sometimes try to grasp roles intensively, but this approach requires
a skill to quickly change the roles. However, this approach is not always
successful. It creates a space for mistakes that are coming from an imperfect
changing. The performer does not fully take into the role. Another problem
occurs in situations when performers can choose from many already known roles
and cannot absolutely decide. There is a chance that they choose an
inappropriate one. Some situations are so intensive that all little mistakes or
differences from expected behavior can be
very dangerous because it can result in a rejection by the audience. We can also see
a positive thing that in fact, having a lot of trained roles helps to handle a
larger variety of situations. We definitely mentioned many negative things and
risks, but that is only one side. There
are many positive reasons. For example, let’s think about the above-mentioned statement that if the roles are
trained, the performer can gain even more benefits and handle the current
situation better because the audience
knows what to expect and the performer believes.

In conclusion, it is always a risk for the performer,
but even though it requires a high skill, the handling of roles switching can
provide so many benefits for the performer. Performers should always care about
their behavior output, especially when
they are going among stages. The sides during the performance can significantly
change, in extreme ways completely swap if the performer lose the authority or
position of leader.