A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory
1. Who Was Goffman?
c h a p t e r o n e Who Was Goffman? This book is not a biography of Erving Goﬀman, yet a few key elements of his bi- ography are worth knowing in order to understand his work better, especially when we try to understand his choices of fieldwork sites and his successive changes of conceptual frames. Thus, chapter 1 of this book provides a rapid overview of Goﬀ- man’s life and the gradual development of his ideas.1 Both authors had interactions with him at diﬀerent points, and we discuss them, one at the start and one at the end of this biographical section. Writing Intellectual Biography We were a dozen students waiting in the hallway of the Anthropology Museum of the University of Pennsylvania where Goﬀman used to teach. We did not know each other and we did not speak to each other. I (YW) had no idea what he looked like. Suddenly, a short, stocky guy in khakis pulling a bike showed up. Was that the Erving Goﬀman, one of the best-known sociologists in the world? Yes, it was. I could not believe it. He noticed my presence (I had talked to him by phone, and came with an introduction from Pierre Bourdieu; I must have looked European enough for him to recognize) and came up to me. His head barely reached my shoulder, and I am only 5' 7". “Hi, buddy, come and see me after class.” Winkin Final_Winkin...
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