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2017 Couch-Stone Symposium Keynote Address: The Interaction Order in the Twenty-first Century and the Case of Police Legitimacy

The Interaction Order

ISBN: 978-1-78769-546-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-545-0

Publication date: 5 February 2019


In this keynote address, I use Georg Simmel’s sociology of social forms approach to amend Erving Goffman’s interaction order perspective into a contemporary analytical framework for empirical analysis of everyday life in our twenty-first century mediated social order. For Goffman, the interaction order provides a foundational basis for social order. As a cornerstone of the human condition, Goffman maintained that most of us spend our daily lives in the direct presence of others. However, rapid advancements in interactive media formats in the last few decades have given rise to an unprecedented twenty-first century interaction order. Many of us now also spend our everyday lives in the mediated presence of others, the effects of which parallel those of face-to-face interaction in importance. These changes, I contend, provide a necessary occasion to reimagine Goffman’s interaction order. In what follows, I first provide a brief synopsis of Goffman’s interaction order. Next, I outline the twenty-first century interaction order and illustrate the importance of Simmel’s formal sociology in amending Goffman’s original framework in relation to this unforeseen order. Finally, to highlight a few key points – I incorporate empirical examples from my work as it relates to police legitimacy. I conclude with some suggestions for future research and note a few limitations.




I would like to thank the co-organizers of the 2017 Couch-Stone Symposium Laurie Linhart and David Schweingruber for the invitation to speak. I also thank the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, Midwest Sociological Society, and the Carl Couch family for their continued support of our organization. I am grateful to David Altheide and Stacey Hannem for helping me think through many of these ideas. I would also like to thank Norman Denzin for the opportunity to publish this address.


Schneider, C.J. (2019), "2017 Couch-Stone Symposium Keynote Address: The Interaction Order in the Twenty-first Century and the Case of Police Legitimacy", The Interaction Order (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 50), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 97-115.



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