Identity and Reality
Social Construction of Reality
- The social construction of reality refers to the theory that the way we
present ourselves to others is shaped by our interactions with others.
- The Thomas Theorem posits that if a person perceives a situation as
real, it is real in its consequences. People will act according to how they perceive a person
or a situation.
Ethnomethodology, as founded by Harold Garfinkel, looks at
how people make sense out of everyday situations by examining their background
Erving Goffman developed dramaturgy, the theory that all
social life is like a drama or play in which everyone plays a role.
- Goffman coined the term impression management to refer to our desire to
manipulate others’ impressions of us.
- To manage impressions, we use three sign vehicles: setting,
appearance, and manner.
- People also manage impressions by managing their personal space, the
immediate area surrounding their body.
Social status is the position that we occupy in a particular setting.
Status symbols are obvious signs or symbols of a respective status. They
can be positive or negative.
Status inconsistency occurs when a person occupies one or more statuses
that do not usually coincide in a single person.
Master status overrides all other statuses and is the one by which we
are first known to others. For many people, their occupation is their master status.
Stigma is Goffman’s term for a trait or characteristic we possess that
causes us to lose prestige in others’ eyes.
- When stigma is permanent or severe, it can result in spoiled identity.
People think negatively of those with spoiled identities.
- One way to deal with people with spoiled identities is through a degradation
ceremony, a ritual designed to expel a person from a group.