Choose your self-presentations carefully, for what starts out as a mask may become your face.

β€” Erving Goffman

The most risky Erving Goffman quotes that are little-known but priceless

Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.


Our sense of being a person can come from being drawn into a wide social unit;

our sense of selfhood can arise through the little ways in which we resist the pull. Our status is backed by the solid buildings of the world, while our sense of personal identity often resides in the cracks


Society is an insane asylum ran by the inmates.


Approved attributes and their relation to face make every man his own jailer;

this is a fundamental social constraint even though each man may like his cell.


Man is not like other animals in the ways that are really significant: Animals have instincts, we have taxes.


When persons are present to one another they can function not merely as physical instruments but also as communicative ones. This possibility, no less than the physical one, is fateful for everyone concerned and in every society appears to come under strict normative regulation, giving rise to a kind of communication traffic order.


Perhaps the individual is so viable a god because he can actually understand the ceremonial significance of the way he is treated, and quite on his own can respond dramatically to what is proffered him. In contacts between such deities there is no need for middlemen; each of these gods is able to serve as his own priest.


All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify


The world, in truth, is a wedding.


And to the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others.


Society is organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way.


Any group of persons – prisoners, primitives, pilots, or patients – develop a life of their own that becomes meaningful, reasonable and normal once you get close to it.


About Erving Goffman

Quotes 17 sayings
Profession Sociologist
Birthday June 11, 1922

The self... is not an organic thing that has a specific location, whose fundamental fate is to be born, to mature, to die; it is a dramatic effect arising diffusely from a scene that is presented.


The normal and the stigmatized are not persons, but perspectives.


There seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for oneself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or a remark, shriveling up the reality in which one is lodged.


So I ask that these papers be taken for what they merely are: exercises, trials, tryouts, a means of displaying possibilities, not establishing fact.