Erving Goffman

Authored by: Gerry R. Cox

Handbook of the Sociology of Death, Grief, and Bereavement

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138201064
eBook ISBN: 9781315453859
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315453859.ch5

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Abstract

Canadian/American sociologist Erving Goffman (1922–1982) was an interactionist sociologist. His major contribution to interactionist theory is the “dramaturgical approach” to explain human behavior. He suggested that actors in everyday life situations are like actors and actresses on a stage, performing their roles, presenting images, and presenting particular features of their personalities, while hiding other features of their personalities (Schaefer, 2015). As Goffman popularized the dramaturgical approach, his place in sociology has been secured. Although he was not the founder of a school of thought, his impact on thinking about social interaction has been profound. While he may not have viewed his work as interactionist theory, his influence on the school remains. His ideas of the micro study of the organization of everyday life, which he called “interaction order,” “framing,” the study of social interactions and linguistics, and the study of face-to-face interactions, are still influential in sociology.

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