Erving Goffman's Theory Of Face To Face

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The sociologist Erving Goffman introduced the notion of face into social interaction with his article On Face-work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements of Social Interaction (1955) and book Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior (1967). His notion of face has been acknowledged as an inspiration to many politeness approaches. Face is considered a key factor that affects human interaction. Agassi and Jarvie (1969:140) believed that people are human "because they have face to care for – without it they lose human dignity". Despite its importance, there is no consensus among researchers on how we should define face. Moreover, the definition of face has been widely debated. I intend to discuss the most salient issues related to the concept of face as it applies to the study of politeness. Goffman’s version of Face Goffman (1967:5) defined face as being: The positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact. Face is an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes – albeit an…show more content…
Goffman believed that speakers maintain face through face-work, which is “actions taken by a person to make whatever he is doing consistent with face. Face-work serves to counteract incidents” (Goffman, 1967: 12). In other words, when an action threatens face, the speaker uses face saving practices to balance his embarrassment and hence the embarrassment that he and others might have over his embarrassment. These face saving practices often become habitual and standardized; each person, group, and society have their own repertoire of practices. Interactants make their selection of possible practices, but it does not mean that they are identical for every individual, group, or society. According to Goffman 's perspective, face is thus a mask that changes depending on the audience and the context of social
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