By Tom Burns
A long time after his demise, the determine of Erving Goffman (1922-82) keeps to fascinate. possibly the best-known sociologist of the second one half the 20th century, Goffman used to be an surely major philosopher whose acceptance prolonged way past his guardian discipline.A host of ideas irrevocably associated with Goffman's identify - equivalent to 'presentation of self', 'total institutions', 'stigma', 'impression administration' and 'passing' - at the moment are staples in quite a lot of educational discourses and are slipping into universal utilization. Goffman's writings discover a formerly left out trend within the trivia of daily interplay. Readers are frequently surprised once they realize themselves in his sensible analyses of mistakes and customary predicaments. This significant learn, written by way of essentially the most revered sociologists at paintings this day, is an indispensible advisor to the sociology of Erving Goffman. This publication deals a compact consultant to Goffman’s key rules and the debates they've got engendered, and comprises understandings generated by way of fresh Goffman scholarship.
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Extra resources for Erving Goffman
Social order comprehends the accommodations arrived at between all these variations and contingent circumstances, as well as the overall orderliness we normally expect, or hope, to encounter in everyday public life—an orderliness which is characteristic of any society with some claims to stability. There are, of course, plenty of times and occasions when it breaks down or is broken; plenty of individuals who flout it, and a few who exploit it for ulterior purposes; but what is important, Goffman insists, is that there is a readiness on the part of most people to see order restored, whenever it has been disrupted.
More steps towards clarification are supplied by a well-known paper of Gilbert Ryle’s, “The Thinking of Thoughts”,24 one of several which 43 ERVING GOFFMAN appeared as a sort of serial appendix to the The Concept of Mind. This introduced the term “thick description” to denote the multiplicity of layers of meaning which can accumulate on any kind of physical act which lends itself to being employed and construed as expressive social action. “Thick description”, admittedly a not very precise expression, suffers also from having been taken up and used in a number of different ways, often at some remove from what Ryle had in mind.
One must look rather to the fact that societies everywhere, if they are to be societies, must mobilise their members as self-regulating participants in social encounters. One way of mobilizing the individual for this purpose is through ritual; he is taught to be perceptive, to have feelings attached to 40 SOCIAL ORDER-INTERACTION ORDER self and a self expressed through face, to have pride, honour, and dignity, to have considerateness, to have tact and a certain amount of poise…. Universal human nature is not a very human thing.
Erving Goffman by Tom Burns