About ‘face': Reconsidering Goffman's theory of face-work for digital culture

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While Erving Goffman’s renown stems from his pioneering efforts legitimising the study of the interaction order and everyday life, an appreciation for his conceptual contributions to the study of social media remains less understood. This could be due to the way Goffman articulated his ideas through the use of metaphor, a general reticence to systematize ideas in consistent fashion, and perhaps most crucially because by the time of his passing the Internet was merely in its infancy. In this chapter, my aim is to outline Goffman’s contribution to the sociological understanding of social media by tracing several concepts that illuminate vital ideas about the interaction order with respect to social media. By adapting several Goffmanian concepts such as facework, framing and gender display, I seek to demonstrate how Goffman’s ideas pertaining to social interaction remain at the heart of many social media practices that are fundamentally ordered and maintained via the visual dimensions of social media. I argue that while Goffman never explicitly provides an analysis of social media his ideas provide fertile grounding for explorations of the digital, offering sociologists insights into the way social interactions remains at the centre of life online.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Goffman Studies
EditorsMichael Hviid Jacobsen, Greg Smith
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003160861
ISBN (Print)9780367750718
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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