The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is one of the most important works of the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman . In it, the bases of the dramaturgical approach to everyday life are developed , according to which the best way to understand the social interaction that takes place in everyday life is through the metaphor of a theatrical performance.
Goffman assumes that when we show ourselves to other people we try to convey - consciously or unconsciously - a certain impression about ourselves. For this we interpret the role we want to convey. Thus all social interaction is a performance created for the audience.
Goffman uses the entire arsenal terminological of the world of the theater: The action takes place on a stage ( stage ), which determines largely the work (are very different behavioral patterns in a church and a nightclub); the work is prepared in the racks ( backstage ) (eg the mirror being tested facial expressions ); the actors use it to make their role, appropriate costumes and props more credible (Goffman uses the example of the symbolic force that the white coat and the stethoscope have in the relationship between doctor and patient).
According to Goffman, when we enter a situation, certain information about ourselves helps us define the scene, allowing the "audience" to decipher what to expect and how to react during said interaction. In short: we "express" ourselves as actors to make an "impression" on our audience. If the situations must be defined, there must be an agreement between the interlocutors, which is carried out through consensus. The moral character of the actor demonstrated during the first impression is crucial for the acceptance and definition of the scene: you must be who you say you are. That is why when an individual presents himself to others, he wants to control the impression they receive.