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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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We would like to thank Dave Park for the invitation to prepare this book, when we had not intended anything of the sort, and for his patience, while we finished up other projects first. Yves Winkin was Harron Chair at Villanova University in Fall 2012 and Visiting Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong in Spring 2013, and would like to thank both institutions for allowing the time to write. Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz would like to thank the École Normale Supériure de Lyon for the gift of time in Fall 2012. Writing a book while away from home requires much sup- port from multiple friends, relatives, and colleagues, and we thank them all. Spe- cial thanks to Don Lintner for creating camera-ready images of the silhouettes used in Chapter 5, and to Fay Akindes, Laura Mason, Laura Selkirk, and Lynne Schultz for helping with various final details on our behalf. Gillian Sankoff gave permission to quote the letter Erving Goffman wrote to Dell Hymes in 1976, and took the time to review chapter 1. Pierre De Visscher gave permission to use the silhouettes and adapt the discus- sion provided in chapter 5, originally published as “La maîtrise visuelle de l’ordi- naire: L’usage des silhouettes dans l’enseignement de la communication interpersonnelle” in Les Cahiers Internationaux de Psychologie Sociale, 12, 61–76, 1992. Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13 2:32 PM Page ix Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13 2:32 PM Page x

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