If the audience is in disagreement with the image an individual is presenting then the individual's presentation of self is interrupted.Individuals present images of themselves based on how society thinks they should act in a particular situation.This recognition led Goffman to his dramaturgical analysis.
From a methodological perspective, Goffman often employed qualitative approaches, specifically ethnography, most famously in his study of social aspects of mental illness, in particular the functioning of total institutions.
Overall, his contributions are valued as an attempt to create a theory that bridges the agency-and-structure divide – for popularizing social constructionism, symbolic interaction, conversation analysis, ethnographic studies, and the study and importance of individual interactions.
This took the form of dramaturgical analysis, beginning with his 1956 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.
Goffman's other major works include Asylums (1961), Stigma (1963), Interaction Ritual (1967), Frame Analysis (1974), and Forms of Talk (1981).
Goffman was the 73rd president of the American Sociological Association.
His best-known contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction.
His ideas are also "difficult to reduce to a number of key themes"; his work can be broadly described as developing "a comparative, qualitative sociology that aimed to produce generalizations about human behavior".
Goffman made substantial advances in the study of face-to-face interaction, elaborated the "dramaturgical approach" to human interaction, and developed numerous concepts that have had a massive influence, particularly in the field of the micro-sociology of everyday life.
For instance when an individual from a high class background goes to a black tie affair the predefined definition of situation would be that they must mind their manners and act according to their class.
In 2007 Goffman was listed by The Times Higher Education Guide as the sixth most-cited author in the humanities and social sciences, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Jürgen Habermas.