Erving Goffman and the performed self

2 minutes

If, as Shakespeare suggested, all the world’s a stage, do we have a ‘true self’?

The 20th-century Canadian-American sociologist Erving Goffman believed that we adapt to roles – lover, customer, worker – based on circumstance, and are constantly concerned with how we’re appearing to others. This short animation explains why Goffman’s view of humanity left no room for a ‘true self’ – an actor behind all the roles we play.

Video by BBC Radio 4

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animation: Andrew Park

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