Download Approaches to the Individual: The Relationship between by Athanasia Chalari (auth.) PDF

By Athanasia Chalari (auth.)

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Example text

This distinction is crucial, since his understanding of society is based upon it. Society is structured and viewed as the endless combinations of individuals’ interactions with each other, but it can also be understood as the endless combinations of individuals’ interaction with themselves. According to Simmel, the individual can be understood both as an independent entity and as a member of a wider entity. It could thus be argued that society can be perceived both through the way its elements are formed and through the way its elements form society.

To form the bridge that people build to one another [ . . ] (Goffman, 1971: 116) Here Goffman proposes a new interpretation of role. A main argument of this book is that external conversation derives from internal conversation, but what Goffman suggests is that, during an interaction, an individual must not externalise a part of his inner thoughts (‘scale down his expressions’) and thus not articulate some of the things he believes or feels. Indirectly, and probably unintentionally, Goffman and Smith thus argue that the individual must hide something and keep some things unexpressed.

This is a debt that Goffman left unsettled by his question-beginning definition – ‘a self is a repertoire of behaviour appropriate to a different set of contingences’. (Archer, 2000: 78) In Goffman’s work, it is difficult to find an isolated fragment with regard to the self per se. According to Goffman, the understanding of self derives from a rather general essence that the reader comprehends in his work. Goffman constantly avoids examining the inner processes of the individual (and thus the self), yet he leaves the reader with the sense that the self is not a private, personal entity, but can adapt and operate according to the external environment.

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