Mainstream Soliloquies

Goffman and the Sociology of Self-Talk


Parole chiave:

self-talk, rhetoric, media, conversation, social frame


The paper aims to probe the rhetoric patterns featuring self-talk in the public sphere, with particular reference to the new forms of “public” soliloquy. To the fore is the rhetoric analysis carried out by Erving Goffman in Forms of Talk (1981), focusing on the conversational frames in which social actors develop their communicative actions: “with self-talk, then, one might want to say that a sort of impersonation is occurring”. Self-talk is not only a dramatic genre or religious practice, it is also a public conversational habit, as digital speeches or sermons confirm. According to Goffman, self-talk can be intended as “the stage-acting of a version of the delivery, albeit only vaguely a version of its reception” (Goffman, 1981, p. 83). Thus, it is possible to investigate the rhetoric patterns of self-talk conceived as a conversational medium, practiced not only in the theatre or in the church, but also on the Internet and television. The purpose is to understand what kind of self-talks are most commonly diffused in the public sphere, assuming that “here is a crucial feature of human communication” (Goffman, 1981, p. 84). Specifically, the methodology concerns Goffman’s frame analysis of self-talk, in reference to the rhetoric processes of “exaggeration, stereotyping, standardization of intensity” (Goffman, 1981, p. 84) of public speeches. This theoretic approach allows an emphasis on the convergence between sociology, communication and rhetoric in the analysis of self-talk, which can be paradoxically considered as a communicative strategy both in public and in private. Thanks to Goffman’s analysis, soliloquy and public sermons can be considered relevant forms of contemporary self-talk, inspired by meaningful rhetorical patterns. 

Biografia autore

Andrea Lombardinilo, Università degli Studi Gabriele d'Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara

Andrea Lombardinilo is Associate Professor in Sociology of cultural and communicative processes at “Gabriele d’Annunzio” University, Chieti-Pescara (Italy), where he is Rector’s delegate for communication and a member of the Evaluation Committee. He teaches Sociology of cultural communication, Communication and public safety, Sociology and communication. His interests include the sociology of higher education and academic environments, with a focus on innovation reform and institutional communication within the university system. Furthermore, he carries out research and sociology of cultural processes, with particular reference to the media and symbolic representations of modern identity. He has carried out institutional and research activities at the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). His most recent volumes are: Università in democrazia. Habermas e lo spazio della comunicazione accademica (University in Democracy: Habermas and the Space of Academic Communication) (Mimesis 2019); McLuhan and Symbolist Communication: The Shock of Dislocation (Peter Lang, 2017).




Come citare

Lombardinilo, A. (2022). Mainstream Soliloquies: Goffman and the Sociology of Self-Talk. Mediascapes Journal, 19(1), 165–176. Recuperato da