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Erving Goffman

A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory


Yves Winkin and Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz

Although Erving Goffman never claimed to be a media or communication scholar, his work is definitely relevant to, and has already served as a substantial resource for, those who are. This is the first detailed presentation and analysis of his life and work intended specifically for a communication audience. While primarily an introduction to Goffman’s work, those already familiar with his ideas will also learn something new. In addition to summarizing Goffman’s major concepts and his influence on other scholars, the book includes an intellectual biography, explication of his methods, and an example of how to extend his ideas. Readers are invited to consider Goffman as a lens through which to view much of the pattern evident in the social world. Goffman’s work always appealed to the general public (several of his books became bestsellers), and so this book has implications for those who are interested in the role of media or communication in their own lives as well as those who study it professionally.


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Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Overview of the Book 3 Goffman’s Ideas 4 Summary of the Major Works 8 A Note on Point of View 9 1. Who Was Goffman? 11 Writing Intellectual Biography 11 Canadian Origins 13 Chicago: The Intellectual Forge 15 Scotland: Doing Fieldwork 22 France: Writing Up Fieldwork 23 Return to Chicago: Dissertation 23 Washington, D. C.: Total Institutions 25 UC Berkeley: Academic Acceptance 26 Las Vegas: Frayed Edges of American Civilization 27 Harvard: Time Out 28 University of Pennsylvania: Refining the Chicago Model 29 Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13 2:32 PM Page v 2. Goffman’s Ideas 33 Unraveling the Complexities of Face-to-Face Interaction 34 In the Presence of Others 34 Embarrassment 35 Involvement 39 Deference and Demeanor 42 Face and Self 44 Role and Identity 54 Pleading the Cause of the Powerless 59 Asylums 60 Stigma 64 Gender Advertisements 64 Framing Reality 66 Strategic Interaction 66 Frame Analysis 66 Forms of Talk 69 Conclusion 73 “Felicity’s Condition” 73 “The Interaction Order” 74 3. Goffman in Communication 76 Tracking Goffman Across Disciplinary Subfields 80 Language and Social Interaction 81 Interpersonal Communication 85 Health Communication 86 Organizational Communication 87 Intercultural/International Communication 88 Media 89 Public Relations 91 Feminist/Critical Theory 92 Rhetoric/Performance Studies 92 What Remains to Be Studied 93 Gossamer Reality 93 Context 94 Faulty Persons 95 Interactions Between Strangers 95 Interaction Order 96 Conclusion 96 4. Goffman’s Method 98 Empirical Natural History 99 Long-Term Ethnography 101 Observations, Not Recordings 103 vi | CONTENTS Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13...

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