Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2543-3164
  • E-ISSN: 2543-3156
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Commentators and analysts in new media studies have taken inspiration from Goffman’s ‘dramaturgical’ approach to interaction as performance, as well as his concepts of ‘face’ and ‘impression management’. Goffman is specifically invoked in discussions of a particular source of interactional trouble that is seen as generated in and by the structure of mediated communication in digital spaces: so-called “context collapse.” Context collapse represents “a crisis of self-presentation” (Wesch, 2008) that is brought about by the ability of digital platforms like Twitter and Facebook to “flatten multiple audiences into one” (Marwick & boyd, 2010, p. 9). Returning to Goffman’s unpublished PhD dissertation (Goffman, 1953) – based on fieldwork on the remote island of Unst in the Shetlands – presents an opportunity to understand more fully both the online phenomenon of “context collapse” and the promise and limitations of Goffman’s work for the study of interaction in digital environments.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Agger, B.
    (2012) Oversharing: Presentations of self in the internet age. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203125090
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203125090 [Google Scholar]
  2. Arensberg, C. M.
    (1954) The community-study method. American Journal of Sociology, 60(2), 109–124. 10.1086/221502
    https://doi.org/10.1086/221502 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bennett, A.
    (1981) Cold sweat. London Review of Books, 3(19), 12–13 (15October 1981).
    [Google Scholar]
  4. boyd, d.
    (2002) Faceted id/entity: Managing representation in a digital world. MA thesis, Program in Media Arts & Sciences, MIT. Available online at www.danah.org/papers/Thesis.FacetedIdentity.pdf
  5. (2013) How “context collapse” was coined: My recollections. Available online at www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2013/12/08/coining-context-collapse.html
  6. boyd, d., & Ellison, N. B.
    (2008) Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 210–230. 10.1111/j.1083‑6101.2007.00393.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x [Google Scholar]
  7. Costa, E.
    (2018) Affordances-in-practice: An ethnographic critique of social media Logic and context collapse. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3641–3656. 10.1177/1461444818756290
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818756290 [Google Scholar]
  8. Davis, J. L., & Jurgenson, N.
    (2014) Context collapse: Theorizing context collusions and collisions. Information, Communication & Society, 17(4), 476–485. 10.1080/1369118X.2014.888458
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2014.888458 [Google Scholar]
  9. Duncan Jr., S.
    (1972) Some signals and rules for taking speaking turns in conversations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 23(2), 283–292. 10.1037/h0033031
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0033031 [Google Scholar]
  10. Eisenlohr, P.
    (2011) Introduction: What is a medium? Theologies, technologies, and aspirations. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, 19(1), 1–5. 10.1111/j.1469‑8676.2010.00134.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8676.2010.00134.x [Google Scholar]
  11. Fine, G. A., & Manning, P.
    (2003) Erving Goffman. InG. Ritzer (Ed.), The Blackwell companion to major contemporary social theorists (pp.34–62). Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Georgakopoulou, A.
    (2017) “Whose context collapse?” Ethical clashes in the study of language and social media in context. Applied Linguistics Review, 8(2–3), 1–32.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Gil-Lopez, T., Shen, C., Benefield, G. A., Palomares, N. A., Kosinki, M., & Stillwell, D.
    (2018) One size fits all: Context collapse, self-presentation strategies and language styles on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23, 127–145. 10.1093/jcmc/zmy006
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmy006 [Google Scholar]
  14. Goffman, E.
    (1952) Draft of PhD thesis statement. May 1952 Available online at cdclv.unlv.edu//ega/documents/eg_thesis_statement_52.pdf
  15. (1953) Communication Conduct in an Island Society (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Chicago. Available online at cdclv.unlv.edu//ega/documents/eg_phd.pdf
  16. (1959) The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. (1974) Frame analysis. An essay on the organization of experience. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. (1981) Forms of Talk. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (1983) The interaction order. American Sociological Review, 48(1), 1–17. 10.2307/2095141
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2095141 [Google Scholar]
  20. Golder, S. A., & Macy, M. W.
    (2014) Digital footprints: Opportunities and challenges for online social research. Annual Review of Sociology, 40, 129–152. 10.1146/annurev‑soc‑071913‑043145
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043145 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hacking, I.
    (2004) Between Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman: Between discourse in the abstract and face-to-face interaction. Economy and Society33(3), 277–302. 10.1080/0308514042000225671
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0308514042000225671 [Google Scholar]
  22. Hogan, B.
    (2010) The presentation of self in the age of social media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online. Bulletin of Science Technology & Society, 30(6), 377–386. 10.1177/0270467610385893
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0270467610385893 [Google Scholar]
  23. Knorr-Cetina, K.
    (2009) The synthetic situation: Interactionism for a global world. Symbolic Interaction, 32(1), 61–87. 10.1525/si.2009.32.1.61
    https://doi.org/10.1525/si.2009.32.1.61 [Google Scholar]
  24. Marwick, A., & boyd, d.
    (2010) I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and their imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114–133. Available at www.tiara.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/marwickboydtwitternms.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Miller, H.
    (1995) The presentation of self in electronic life: Goffman on the internet. Available at www.douri.sh/classes/ics234cw04/miller2.pdf
  26. Sannicolas, N.
    (1997) Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy and online relationships. Cybersociology, 1. Available at www.cybersociology.com/files/12sannicolas.html
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Schegloff, E.
    (1972) Notes on a conversational practice: Formulating place. InD. N. Sudnow (Ed.), Studies in social interaction (pp.75–119). New York, NY: MacMillan, The Free Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Szabla, M., & Blommaert, J.
    (2017) Does context really collapse in social media interaction?Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies, Paper 201. Available at https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/upload/fca4e246-e02e-4683-b0d2-1757d1f1d59a_TPCS_201_Szabla-Blommaert.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Varis, P.
    (2014) Digital ethnography. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies, Paper 104. Available at https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/upload/c428e18c-935f-4d12-8afb-652e19899a30_TPCS_104_Varis.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Vitak, J.
    (2015) Balancing privacy concerns and impression management strategies on Facebook. Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2015, July 22–24, 2015, Ottawa, Canada. Available at https://cups.cs.cmu.edu/soups/2015/papers/ppsVitak.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Warner, W. L.
    (1941) Social anthropology and the modern community. American Journal of Sociology, 46(6), 785–796. 10.1086/218793
    https://doi.org/10.1086/218793 [Google Scholar]
  32. Wesch, M.
    (2008) Context collapse. Available at mediatedcultures.net/youtube/context-collapse/
  33. (2009) YouTube and you: Experiences of self-awareness in the context collapse of the recording webcam. Explorations in Media Ecology, 8(2), 19–34. Available at krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/6302
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Williams, J. P., Weninger, C.
    (2013) Applying Goffman’s assumptions about communication to a new media environment. InD. Altheide, K. Charmaz, J. Johnson, L. Muzetto, C. Nuti, K. PLummer, R. Rauty, & J. Trost (Eds.), The present and future of symbolic interactionism (pp.47–60). Milano: Franco-Angeli.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Williams, R.
    (1973) The country and the city. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Winkin, Y.
    (1999) Erving Goffman: What is a life? The uneasy making of an intellectual biography. InG. Smith (Ed.), Goffman and social organization: Studies of a sociological legacy (pp.19–41). London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error