June 11, 1922|
Mannville, Alberta, Canada
|Died||November 19, 1982
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Education||St. John's Technical High School|
|Alma mater||University of Manitoba B.Sc.
University of Toronto B.A.
University of Chicago M.A., Ph.D
|Influenced by||Everett Hughes, Edward Shils, W. Lloyd Warner, Herbert Blumer|
|Influenced||Anthony Giddens, Stephen R. Barley|
|Relatives||Frances Bay (sister)|
Considered "the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century" (Fine, Manning, and Smith 2000:ix), as a subjective analyst, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical analysis that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Goffman's other areas of study included social order and interaction, impression management, total institutions, social organization of experience, and stigmas. Some of the influences on his works include Durkheim, Freud, Mead, Radcliffe-Brown, and Simmel.
In 2007 Goffman was listed as the 6th most-cited intellectual in the humanities and social sciences by The Times Higher Education Guide, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Jürgen Habermas. Goffman was also named the 73rd president of the American Sociological Association. Goffman is more cited today from his books than during his time. Writers today use his ideas to examine the relationship between individual behavior and the reproduction of social systems.
Life and career 
Goffman was born in 1922 in Mannville, Alberta, Canada to Max Goffman and Anne Goffman (née Averbach). He was from a family of Ukrainian Jews who had joined the great inflow of Ukrainians and Russians into Canada just before the beginning of the century. The family later migrated to Dauphin, in Manitoba, where his father had what must have been a fairly successful tailoring business.
Goffman attended St. Johns Technical High School in Winnipeg then later became a student at the University of Manitoba (with chemistry as his major subject) in the first year of the Second World War, but left off studying to move to Ottawa to work in the film industry for the National Film Board of Canada established by John Grierson. Later he developed his interest in sociology. It was also during this time that he met Dennis Wrong, a renowned North American sociologist of the time. This meeting worked as a motivation to leave Manitoba and enroll at the University of Toronto, where he graduated with a B.A. in sociology and anthropology in 1945. Afterwards, he moved on to the University of Chicago and received his M.A. and Ph.D for sociology, in 1949 and 1953 respectively.
While studying at the University of Chicago, Goffman did field research in the Shetland Islands. The research done here gave Goffman the inspiration to write his first major work The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. After graduation from the University of Chicago, from 1954-1957 Goffman was a research fellow at the National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda. Participant observation done here led to his essays on mental illness and 'total institutions' which came together to from another one of his works Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Goffman was later a professor in the sociology department at University of California, Berkeley from 1957-1968. After Berkeley, Goffman moved on to be a professor at the University of Pennsylvania until his death in 1982.
Goffman as a sociologist 
Along with many other sociologists of his cohort, Goffman was heavily influenced by George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer in developing his theoretical framework. Goffman studied at the University of Chicago with Everett Hughes, Gregory Adams, Edward Shils, and W. Lloyd Warner. He would go on to pioneer the study of face-to-face interaction, or micro-sociology, elaborate the "dramaturgical approach" to human interaction, and develop numerous concepts that would have a massive influence.
Goffman was considered a micro-sociologist because he concentrated on the detailed analysis of encounters and the norms governing these encounters. With this type of sociology came the evaluation of face-to-face interactions, paying close attention to the small details of these interactions and discovering things that may seem insignificant yet actually are what structure behavior and behavior norms. In doing so, Goffman investigated gestures, such as shaking hands or placing a hand on someone else's shoulder and facial expressions during interactions. These types of gestures came to be known as 'grammatical structures' of social interactions.
There were two types of structures that Goffman discussed: remedial sequence and civil inattention. Remedial sequence consisted of what we know as governed rules of social interactions, for example, when we do something by accident as to injure someone, we would apologize, wait for the injured person to say 'ok', then apologize again and reassure that he/she is ok. Civil inattention consisted of how the unconsciously patterned interactions[dubious ] of people produces and maintains social order.
Goffman argued that although interactions between people vary from culture to culture, there is a common predictable way in which we all characterize interactions, like how we say hello and goodbye to one another. Social interactions make the world a predictable place. Goffman saw interactions as rituals in the sense that the 'interaction order' (as Goffman called it) is a social order; when we disrupt interaction, we disrupt society. Goffman argued that our interactions give us a sense of our social belonging and our sense of sacredness as a people.
Goffman's major works include The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), Asylums (1961), Stigma (1963), Interaction Ritual (1967), Frame Analysis (1974), and Forms of Talk (1981). Many of his works form the basis for the sociological and media studies concept of framing.
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life 
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was published in 1959. It is Goffman’s first and most famous book, for which he received the American Sociological Association’s MacIver Award in 1961. It was also the first book to treat face-to-face interaction as a subject to study in the sociological aspect and was probably one of Goffman's greatest contributions to social theory by his formulation of symbolic interaction in the book.
Goffman treated it as a kind of report in which he frames out[clarification needed] the theatrical performance that applies to face-to-face interactions. He believed that when an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of him by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner. At the same time, the person that the individual is interacting with is trying to form and obtain information about the individual. Goffman also believed that all participants in social interactions are engaged in certain practices to avoid being embarrassed or embarrassing others. Society is not homogeneous; we must act differently in different settings. This led to Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis. Goffman saw a connection between the kinds of acts that people put on in their daily life and theatrical performances. In social interaction, like in theatrical performance there is a front region where the “actors” (individuals) are on stage in front of the audiences. This is where the positive aspect of the idea of self and desired impressions are highlighted. There is a back region or stage that can also be considered as a hidden or private place where individuals can be themselves and get rid of their role or identity in society.
Goffman argues that secrecy underlies all social interaction. The dramaturgical approach functions to explain this curious state of affairs. Goffman also argues that one way we can try to understand what normal behavior is by looking at what happens when normal behavior is disrupted.
Goffman published Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates in 1961. It was one of the first sociological examinations of the social situation of mental patients i.e. psychiatric hospitals. Goffman introduced his idea of 'total institutions' in Asylums, which include any type of institution in which people are all treated alike and behavior is regulated. As seen in the book, these total institutions have a big impact on the interaction of people, yet even in regulated societies, people always find ways to redefine their supposed established roles and break through their own personalities.
The book includes four essays: "Characteristics of Total Institutions" (1957), "The Moral Career of the Mental Patient" (1959), "The Underlife of a Public Institution: A Study of Ways of Making Out in a Mental Hospital", and "The Medical Model and Mental Hospitalization: Some Notes on the Vicissitudes of the Tinkering Trades". In Asylums, Goffman is mainly engrossed with the details of having been hospitalized to a psychiatric hospital and the nature and effects of the process he defines as ‘institutionalization’. He describes how the institutionalization process socialises people into the role of a good patient, someone ‘dull, harmless and inconspicuous’, which in turn reinforces notions of chronicity in severe mental illness.
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (1963) examines how people manage impressions of themselves when they wane from approved standards of behavior or appearance to protect their identities. This protection is mainly done through concealment. 'Stigma' refers to the shame that a person may feel when they fail to meet other people's standards, therefore causing them to not reveal their faults. For example, one may have a criminal record yet when they meet someone, they hide the fact that they possess that criminal record by simply not exposing that information in fear that they will be judged by whoever they are meeting.
Interaction Ritual 
Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior is a collection of six of Goffman’s essays. The first four essays were published around the 1950s, the fifth is published in 1964, and the last essay was to finish the collection. The six essays are: "On Face-work", "Embarrassment and Social Organization", "The Nature of Deference and Demeanor", "Alienation from Interaction", "Mental Symptoms and Public Order", and "Where the Action Is".
The first essay, "On Face-work", focuses on the concept of face, which is the positive image of self that individuals have when interacting with others. Goffman believed that face "as a sociological construct of interaction, is neither inherent in nor permanent aspect of the person". Once an individual gives out a positive self-image of themselves to others, they then feel a need to keep or live up to that image. When individuals are inconsistent with how they project themselves in society, they risk being embarrassed or discredited. Therefore, the individual remains consistently guarded, making sure that they do not show themselves in an unfavorable way to others.
Frame Analysis 
Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience (1974) was Goffman's attempt to explain how conceptual frames structure the individual’s perception of the society. Therefore, this book is about organization of experiences rather than organization of society. Frames organize the experiences and guide action for the individual and/or for everyone.[clarification needed] Frame analysis, then, is the study of organization of social experiences. One example that Goffman used to help people better understand the concept is associating the frame with the concept of a picture frame. He used the picture frame concept to illustrate how people use the frame (which represents structure) to hold together their picture (which represents the context) of what they are experiencing in their life.
The most basic frames are called primary frameworks. These frameworks take an experience or an aspect of a scene of an individual that would originally be meaningless and make it meaningful. One type of primary framework is natural frameworks, which identifies situations that happened in the natural world and is completely physical with no human influences. The other type of framework is social framework, which explains events and connects it to humans. An example of natural framework is the weather, and an example of social framework is a meteorologist who reports the weather forecast. Goffman concentrates more on the social frameworks and tries to "construct a general statement regarding the structure, or form, of experiences individuals have at any moment of their social life".
Forms of Talk 
Forms of Talk was written by Goffman in 1981. The book consists of five essays: "Replies and Responses", "Response Cries", "Footing", "The Lecture", and "Radio Talk". Each essay addresses both verbal and non-verbal communication through a sociolinguistic model, and the book provides a comprehensive overview of the study of talk. In the introduction, Goffman identifies three underlying themes in each essay: "ritualization, participation framework, and embedding."
The first essay, "Replies and Responses" is about “conversational dialogue", and the way people respond with both linguistic and nonlinguistic actions during a conversation. The next essay, "Response Cries", looks at the use of utterances and their social implications of these cries in different social contexts. Specifically, Goffman talks about the use of 'self talk', or not talking to anyone specifically, and the role it plays within a social situation. "Footing" addresses the role that footing, or alignment, can shift during a conversation. “The Lecture” was originally given as an oral presentation and describes the different types and methods of a lecture. The last essay in the book, "Radio Talk", describes the talk used during radio programming and the effect it has on the listeners of the radio program.
Awards and Honors 
During his lifetime, Goffman was awarded a number of degrees and other honors:
- Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), University of Manitoba, 1976
- Guggenheim Fellowship, 1977–78
- In Medias Res, International Prize for Communicating, 1978
- Doctor of Hebrew Literature/Letters (D.H.L.), University of Chicago, 1979
- Mead-Cooley Award in social psychology
- Forms of Talk was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, 1981
- 6th most cited intellectual in the humanities and social sciences by The Times Higher Education Guide
- 73rd president of the American Sociological Association
During his career Goffman served at the following institutions:
- University of Chicago, Division of Social Sciences, Chicago, assistants, 1952–53, resident associate, 1953–54
- National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, visiting scientist, 1954–57
- University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor, 1957–59,professor, 1959–62, professor of sociology, 1962–68
- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, 1969–82
List of Major Works 
- 1959: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, University of Edinburgh Social Sciences Research Centre. ISBN 978-0-14-013571-8. Anchor Books edition
- 1961: Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York, Doubleday. ISBN 0-14-013739-4
- 1961: Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction – Fun in Games & Role Distance. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill.
- 1963: Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings, The Free Press. ISBN 0-02-911940-5
- 1963: Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-671-62244-7
- 1967: Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-394-70631-5
- 1969: Strategic Interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-345-02804-X
- 1969: Where the action is. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-0079-2
- 1971: Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-06-131957-0
- 1974: Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. London: Harper and Row. ISBN 978-0-06-090372-5
- 1979: Gender Advertisements, Macmillian. ISBN 0-06-132076-5
- 1981: Forms of Talk, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-7790-6
See also 
- "The most cited authors of books in the humanities". timeshighereducation.co.uk. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Burns (2002), p.9
- Macionis, John J. & Gerber, Linda M. Sociology (7th Canadian ed.) (Pearson Canada Inc., 2010) pg.11
- Smith (2006), pp.33-34
- Trevino (2003), p.35
- Ritzer, George, Sociological Theory (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008) pg.372
- Goffman, Erving (1961). Asylums: essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Anchor Books.
- "Extracts from Erving Goffman". A Middlesex University resource. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
- Weinstein R. (1982). "Goffman's Asylums and the Social Situation of Mental Patients". Orthomolecular psychiatry 11 (N 4): 267–274.
- Burns (2002), p. viii
- Davidson, Larry; Rakfeldt, Jaak; Strauss, John (editors) (2010). The Roots of the Recovery Movement in Psychiatry: Lessons Learned. John Wiley and Sons. p. 150. ISBN 88-464-5358-1.
- Lester H., Gask L. (May 2006). "Delivering medical care for patients with serious mental illness or promoting a collaborative model of recovery?". British Journal of Psychiatry 188 (5): 401–402. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.105.015933. PMID 16648523.
- Trevino (2003), p. 37
- Trevino (2003), p.39
- Trevino (2003), p.40
- Helm, David. Talk’s Form: Comments on Goffman’s Forms of Talk. (Human Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2) http://www.jstor.org/stable/20008837. Page 156.
- Goffman, Irving. Forms of Talk. (Philidelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press: 1981) Page 3.
- Goffman, Irving. Forms of Talk. (Philidelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press: 1981) Page 5.
- Helm, David. Talk’s Form: Comments on Goffman’s Forms of Talk. (Human Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2) http://www.jstor.org/stable/20008837. Page 154.
- Burns, Tom (2002). Erving Goffman. Routledge. ISBN 0-203-20550-2.
- Smith, Greg (2006). Erving Goffman ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Hoboken: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-00234-6.
- Trevino, A. Javier (2003). Goffman’s Legacy, Lanham, Md.:Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0742519775, ISBN 0-7425-1978-3
- Elliot, Ray, Anthony, Larry (2003). Key Contemporary Social Theorists. Blackwell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-631-21972-2.
- Parker, Sim, Noel, Stuart (1997). The AZ Guide to Modern Social and Political Theorists. Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf. ISBN 0-13-5424885-x Check
- Burns, Tom (1992). Erving Goffman. London;New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415064929.
Further reading 
- Fine, Gary Alan; Smith, Gregory W. H. (2000). Erving Goffman. Vol. 1–4. SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-6863-6.
- Dirda, Michael (2010). "Waiting for Goffman", Lapham's Quarterly (Vol 3 No 4). ISSN 1935-7494
- Ditton, Jason (1980). The View of Goffman, New York:St. Martin’s Press ISBN 0312845981
- Drew, Paul & Wootton, Anthony (1988). Erving Goffman : Exploring the Interaction Order, Boston: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-037-0
- Manning, Philip (1992). Erving Goffman and Modern Sociology, Stanford, California:Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2025-8, ISBN 0-8047-2026-6
- Scheff, Thomas (2006). Goffman Unbound! : A New Paradigm for Social Science Boulder, Colorado:Paradigm Publishers. ISBN 1-59451-195-0
- Goffman, Erving; Lemert, Charles; Branaman, Ann (1997). The Goffman reader. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 1-55786-894-8.
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