A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory
4. Goffman’s Method
c h a p t e r f o u r Goffman’s Method So, what was Goﬀman’s method? Well, everyone says he hadn’t any, that he was more of an essayist than a traditional sociologist.1 Admittedly, Goﬀman never said a lot about his methods explicitly. Becker (2003) provides the likely logic, saying Goﬀman felt very strongly that you could not elaborate any useful rules of procedure for doing field research and that, if you attempted to do that, people would misinterpret what you had written, do it (whatever it was) wrong, and then blame you for the resulting mess. He refused to accept responsibility for such unfortunate possibilities. (Becker, 2003, p. 660) But that does not mean Goﬀman was not methodical about his inquiry, or even that he did not know his methodology. Review of his methods is possible through a variety of sources: as he told his readers about them, as he practiced them, and as he commented upon them. First, Goﬀman explained his approach in brief prefaces, asides, and footnotes. Certainly, there is no formula outlined in any of his work, comparable to what many others provide those who would emulate them. Despite this, there are a number of comments on methodology—more than it would appear at first read- ing, especially when they are excerpted and compiled from their original contexts. A reader must search out and collect them like rare butterflies, but they are there, Winkin Final_Winkin fin 5/14/13 2:...
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