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Book part
Publication date: 22 November 2016

Simon Susen

In his influential study The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1971 [1959]), Erving Goffman provides an insightful account of the formation of social selves. Goffman

Abstract

Purpose

In his influential study The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1971 [1959]), Erving Goffman provides an insightful account of the formation of social selves. Goffman’s work has been extensively discussed in the sociological literature. Yet, the presuppositional underpinnings, let alone the socio-ontological implications, of his conception of personhood have not been rigorously scrutinized.

Methodology/approach

The main reason for the lack of methodical engagement with the principal assumptions that lie at the heart of Goffman’s theory of the self is that his approach is widely regarded as an eclectic narrative that, while drawing on different sociological traditions, does not make any claim to universal validity.

Findings

The persuasiveness of the contention that Goffman’s analysis of the self cannot be reduced to a general theory of human personhood appears to be confirmed by the fact that both supporters and detractors of his sociological project tend to agree that it would be erroneous to deduce a foundational framework of investigation from his numerous studies concerned with the interaction between self and society.

Research limitations/implications

Attention will be drawn to several controversial issues that arise when faced with the task of assessing both the strengths and the weaknesses of Goffman’s understanding of the self.

Originality/value

The aim of this paper is to challenge the aforementioned contention by demonstrating that Goffman provides a fairly systematic account of human personhood. More significantly, this enquiry suggests that a fine-grained examination of his key concepts permits us to propose an outline of a general theory of the human self.

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Reconstructing Social Theory, History and Practice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-469-3

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2016

Sara E. Green

The purpose of this paper is to highlight both the value and critiques of Erving Goffman’s conceptualization of stigma as well as the emotion work needed to learn the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight both the value and critiques of Erving Goffman’s conceptualization of stigma as well as the emotion work needed to learn the lessons it has to teach.

Methodology/approach

I use a personal narrative grounded in my experience as a member of the “wise” category (the mother of a young woman with cerebral palsy) and observations of the reactions of my disabled students as a vehicle for taking the reader inside the experience of the trials and tribulations of reading Goffman as a member of “marked” social categories and the more humanizing experience of reading Spencer Cahill’s work.

Findings

There remains much to be learned from reading Goffman’s Stigma. In many ways his work has set the stage for approaches to the study of disability that we are still discovering. Learning these lessons through is made difficult by the de-humanizing perspective Goffman brings to the work. He clearly locates himself and his readers in the category of “we the normals” who see the stigmatized as “not quite fully human.” For disabled students and scholars and their families, reading Goffman requires a good deal of emotion management. Reading Spencer Cahill’s work can help in that process. Goffman presents disabled students and scholars and their family members with confirmation of what we know to be true about our marked and not quite human status in the eyes of others and in the process gives us our “own.” Cahill helps us all see ourselves in the strangeness that is inside social life. There is great value in both.

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Sociology Looking at Disability: What Did We Know and When Did We Know it
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-478-5

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Young Women's Carceral Geographies: Abandonment, Trouble and Mobility
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-050-9

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Book part
Publication date: 5 February 2019

Benjamin W. Kelly and W. Peter Archibald

Erving Goffman has been variously interpreted as a symbolic interactionist, a structural functionalist, or an a-structural power-game theorist. However, when considering…

Abstract

Erving Goffman has been variously interpreted as a symbolic interactionist, a structural functionalist, or an a-structural power-game theorist. However, when considering Goffman’s affiliation with the human ecology (HEC) of Robert Park and Everett Hughes, one is able to shed new light on Goffman’s relationship to the aforementioned sociological paradigms. This chapter will demonstrate that his Darwinist underpinnings and overall implicit evolutionary perspective allowed him to develop a dramaturgical theory that explicates how actors are able to understand, predict, anticipate, accommodate to, and influence others while pursuing one’s own or own group’s interests, through one or more of role “taking,” “playing,” and “making.” Furthermore, Goffman elaborates upon Park’s use of dramaturgy, following him in making more room for competition and inequalities in status and power, and offering new dimensions and categories for specifying when and why different adaptive strategies will be used, within different types and degrees of accommodation. Ecological dramaturgy is the term we give to these interdependent lines of social action within stratification contexts. Such structural concerns ultimately separate Goffman from the more subjective and less deductive elements of traditional symbolic interactionist thought. We argue that Goffman’s much neglected ecological and evolutionary-minded approach to role-taking and its inspired analysis of competitive interactive processes provide a missing link in better understanding his complicated intellectual heritage.

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Explorations in Methodology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-886-5

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Book part
Publication date: 14 December 2018

Elizabeth C. J. Pike

This chapter responds to calls to “reclaim” the work of Erving Goffman, and specifically his conceptualization of stigma, arguing that Goffman’s ideas can inform a…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter responds to calls to “reclaim” the work of Erving Goffman, and specifically his conceptualization of stigma, arguing that Goffman’s ideas can inform a critical social theory of mental illness in sport. The analysis pays particular attention to the challenges to social identity for those experiencing mental illness stigma, the role of personal identity in negotiating mental illness stigma, and strategies for stigma reduction including the adoption of stigma symbols.

Approach

The first section of the chapter revisits the concept of stigma, before proceeding to relate this to mental illness stigma as applied to sport. The second section overviews several high-profile cases of mental illness stigma of elite athletes, before presenting some examples of campaigns to address the perceived stigma related to mental health issues in sport.

Findings

The chapter proposes that Goffman’s work maintains relevance when related to social contexts other than those directly observed by him, and that the conceptualization of stigma helps understanding of, and challenges to, mental illness stigma in sport.

Implications

While sport continues to be proposed as an arena for positive character development, analysis informed by the work of Erving Goffman demonstrates that the culture of sport provides a context within which athletes experiencing mental health issues may be stigmatized. This, in turn, undermines the potential for them to secure the health care that they need, with participation and performance often taking precedence over well-being, even in the campaigns ostensibly designed to address mental illness stigma.

Details

Sport, Mental Illness, and Sociology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-469-1

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Book part
Publication date: 6 December 2004

S.H Hillyard

The recent narrative, if not postmodern, turn within the tradition of ethnographic research has not eased difficult questions concerning how best inequalities can be…

Abstract

The recent narrative, if not postmodern, turn within the tradition of ethnographic research has not eased difficult questions concerning how best inequalities can be researched by the social sciences. Whilst important additions have been made to traditional concerns with social class, race and gender, such as age (but not purely gerontology), disability and the rural/urban divide, epistemological questions remain over how theoretical and conceptual concerns about inequality also be met in field research.

Details

Ethnographies of Educational and Cultural Conflicts: Strategies and Resolutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-275-7

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Book part
Publication date: 5 February 2019

Christopher J. Schneider

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…

Abstract

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.

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Article
Publication date: 2 June 2014

Ingrid Jeacle

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of the Official Scrutineer in the annual film awards ceremony of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of the Official Scrutineer in the annual film awards ceremony of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), a role currently occupied by the audit firm Deloitte. The case of BAFTA provides an illustrative example of the increasing demand for discretionary assurance services from audit firms (Free et al., 2009), which in turn is reflective of Power's (1997) “audit society”. It showcases the power of audit as a legitimating tool. The paper seeks to understand the role of the auditor as assurance provider by drawing upon Goffman's (1959) dramaturgical framework. Viewing the auditor as “performer” and a range of interested stakeholders (BAFTA voting members, sponsors, award winners and industry commentators) as the “audience”, this theoretical lens facilitates insights into the nature of assurance provision.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper gathers interview data from within the case organization (BAFTA), it's Official Scrutineers (Deloitte), BAFTA voting members, sponsors, award winners and film industry commentators.

Findings

Drawing on Goffman's (1959) work on impression management to inform its theoretical argumentation, the analysis of results from 36 interviews indicates that Deloitte are highly effective in delivering a successful performance to their audience; they convey a very convincing impression of trust and assurance. The paper therefore suggests the importance of performance ritual in the auditor's role as assurance provider. Additionally, it argues that such a performance may be particularly effective, in the eyes of the audience, when played by a well known audit firm.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the expanding territorial scope of assurance provision by audit firms. By focusing on a glamorous media event, it also furthers an understanding of the role of accounting within the domain of popular culture.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2016

Sharon N. Barnartt

This paper attempts to put Goffman’s writings about disability in Stigma into the context of his own writings as well as into the context of current concepts of disability.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper attempts to put Goffman’s writings about disability in Stigma into the context of his own writings as well as into the context of current concepts of disability.

Methodology/approach

This is a critical review of historical literature in Sociology.

Social implications

The paper suggests how Goffman’s writings can underpin a concept of disability as a fluid and active state rather than a passive and stigmatized state.

Originality/value

By putting Goffman’s writings into an historical context within the development of the field of sociology, the paper shows that some of the ways in which disability advocates and scholars tend to denigrate his writings are really a misinterpretation.

Details

Sociology Looking at Disability: What Did We Know and When Did We Know it
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-478-5

Keywords

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