A debut volume of criticism introduces readers to the legacy of Erving Goffman.
Goffman was one of the most influential sociologists of the 20th century, making significant contributions to the study of the individual, society, and the intersection of the two. In these lectures, originally delivered as part of a class offered at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professors Hood and Van de Vate track Goffman’s ideas over the course of his major works, including The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Stigma, Strategic Interaction, and others. Beginning with the premise that Goffman “is trying to frame general laws about the behavior of human beings in our society,” the authors attempt to define the notions of sociology, society, the human being, and identity, then proceed to Goffmanian explanations of social behavior, self-knowledge, and identity games that create an illusion of reality. The second half of the book supplies an extensive exploration of Frame Analysis, which the authors believe to be “Goffman’s most complete work.” Poorly received at the time of its publication, the volume details how an individual’s perception of society is organized by conceptual “frames,” some of them social and some of them natural. The authors elucidate Goffman’s importance in the hopes of presenting him to a new generation of students seeking to understand the views of one of sociology’s greatest innovators. The book is structured so that each section is authored by either Hood or Van de Vate, though each writes in the same dense academic style that makes heavy use of quotations and specialized language. They have produced an undeniably thorough primer for those getting into Goffman. That said, the work assumes the reader has some background in the study of sociology (enough to know what the dramaturgical perspective is, for example) and the way academic arguments are constructed. General readers should be wary, but anyone looking for a deeper dissection of framing analysis should find much of interest here.
A dense but comprehensive investigation into the concepts of a leading sociologist.