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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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Conclusion: Goffman as a Way of Life


c o n c l u s i o n Goffman as a Way of Life Goffman for Scholars It should be obvious by now that, although Erving Goffman never claimed to be a media and communication scholar, his work is definitely relevant to media and communication scholars, and has already served as a substantial resource for them (as documented extensively in chapter 3). There is little chance that most readers of this book will want to devote their entire lives to Goffmaneutics, as a few aca - demics scattered around the world do these days. But readers may want to put Goffman to good use in a course, a paper, or maybe even in a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. Here are a few suggestions for them. The sheer volume of Goffman’s writings may seem overwhelming. Despite this, do not read summaries in place of the originals: they leave out the juice. Goffman is a pleasure to read, so each day, just read a few pages of one of his papers, or one of his books. We suggest reading an early paper such as “The Nature of Deference and Demeanor” (1956b). When ready for a full book, start perhaps with Gender Ad- vertisements (1979b), which is full of pictures that help to make his argument, or a very moving book such as Stigma (1963b). Stick to the meaty books such as Behav- ior in Public Places and Asylums. Stay away from Frame Analysis and...

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