The theory behind telling your spokes to wear a tie

Know how you give your spokesperson basic styling tips for appearing on television or when speaking at a conference? Things like "never wear checked shirts" and "don't play with your hair"? Picked up an interesting tidbit at Cheskin about the theory behind the advice.

Impression management is a sociological/anthropological theory based on the idea that selfhood and identity are performative acts that we continually engage in frequently without realizing it. The tools at hand include the human body, especially the face and hands, as well as clothing and other objects.

In 1959, the sociologist Erving Goffman published “The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life” exploring how we use these things in the course of daily interactions. In addition to the ordinary situations of everyday life, Goffman also examined unusual situations such as prisons and asylums, what he called “total institutions,” using these to show how individuals used various means (many unauthorized) to maintain their sense of selfhood – to simultaneously communicate and construct their identity.

There are some excerpts from the book here and here.

If you really feel up to the intellectual challenge, Adam Barnhart has really dug into Goffman here.

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