A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory
The present book is concerned with Erving Goﬀman’s contribution generally, but in particular to media and communication theory. Although Goﬀman dealt di- rectly with media products only in his final few years, and ultimately rebuked an extended notion of communication, his work is nonetheless a treasure trove for media and communication students and scholars. Goﬀman was an especially graceful writer who wove together his observations (whether of the Shetland Isles or St. Elizabeth’s) with the reports of others. No less a scholar than Anthony Giddens praises the “manifest brilliance” of his writ- ings (1984, p. xxiv). Goﬀman’s emphasis on description over theory makes his work unusually accessible. He developed extensive taxonomies for understanding the structure underlying interaction. These attributes brought his work substantial at- tention. We would argue that his publications all explored essentially the same topic: the social construction and presentation of the self, relationships, and social reality, through language and interaction. He always took a microanalytic approach (attending to small details of everyday behavior), but each work emphasized a dif- ferent aspect of interaction, providing new terminology for the study of the self and relationships with others. Discussing a publication by someone else, which overlapped in terms of content but did not cite Goﬀman, Dell Hymes pointed out in a letter to Goﬀman, “At least you have the comfort of being able to write in an inimitable way! Others can get Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13 2:32 PM Page 1 the...
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