Goffman, Erving, 1922–82, American sociologist, b. Manville, Alta. His field research in the Shetland Islands resulted in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956), which analyzes interpersonal relations by discussing the active processes by which people make and manage their social roles. Using metaphors of the stage (“dramaturgy”), Goffman describes how ordinary individuals give performances, control their scripts, and enter settings that make up their lives. This active notion of “role” is often associated with the symbolist interactionist school of George Herbert Mead, which argues that humans manipulate social situations by selecting appropriate roles and by maintaining some distance from these roles. Goffman later studied deviance and the “total institution” in Asylums (1961); he later returned to patterns of communication in Frame Analysis (1974) and Forms of Talk (1981). Widely recognized for his distinctive writing style, he served as president of the American Sociological Association in 1981.
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Goffman, ErvingIn contrast with WALLERSTEIN's more economistic account, Giddens sees globalization as a complex multi-dimensional process involving a dialectical relationship between the global and the local, including a sideways stretch, breaking down state boundaries and creating new international agencies (including NGOs) but also leading to new global inequalities and stratification.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
Goffman, Erving(1922–82) sociologist; born in Manville, Alberta, Canada. Educated at the University of Toronto and Chicago, he taught at the University of California: Berkeley (1958–68) and the University of Pennsylvania (1968–82). He was known for his work on patterns of human communication and language, particularly his analyses of routine social interactions such as the ways people walk past one another in public spaces. His books include Stigma (1963), Relations in Public (1972), and Forms of Talk (1981).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.