LifeGoffman was born 11 June 1922, in , Canada, to Max Goffman and Anne Goffman, née Averbach. He was from a family of who had emigrated to Canada at the turn of the century. He had an older sibling, , who became an actress. The family moved to , where his father operated a successful tailoring business. From 1937 Goffman attended St. John's Technical High School in , where his family had moved that year. In 1939 he enrolled at the , majoring in chemistry. He interrupted his studies and moved to to work in the film industry for the , established by . Later he developed an interest in sociology. Also during this time, he met the renowned North American sociologist Dennis Wrong. Their meeting motivated Goffman to leave the University of Manitoba and enroll at the , where he studied under C. W. M. Hart and , graduating in 1945 with a BA in sociology and . Later he moved to the , where he received an MA (1949) and PhD (1953) in sociology. For his doctoral dissertation, from December 1949 to May 1951 he lived and collected data on the island of in the . Goffman's dissertation, entitled ''Communication Conduct in an Island Community'' (1953), was completed under the supervision of W. Lloyd Warner, Donald Horton, and . In 1952 Goffman married Angelica Choate; in 1953, their son Thomas was born. Angelica experienced mental illness and died by suicide in 1964. Outside his academic career, Goffman was known for his interest, and relative success, in the and gambling. At one point, in pursuit of his hobbies and ethnographic studies, he became a at a casino. In 1981 Goffman married Gillian Sankoff. The following year, their daughter was born. In 1982 Goffman died in , on 19 November, of . His daughter is also a sociologist.
CareerThe research Goffman did on Unst inspired him to write his first major work, '' '' (1956). After graduating from the University of Chicago, in 1954–57 he was an assistant to the athletic director at the National Institute for Mental Health in . Participant observation done there led to his essays on and total institutions which came to form his second book, '' Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates'' (1961). In 1958 Goffman became a faculty member in the sociology department at the , first as a visiting professor, then from 1962 as a full professor. In 1968 he moved to the , receiving the Benjamin Franklin Chair in Sociology and Anthropology, due largely to the efforts of , a former colleague at Berkeley. In 1969 he became a fellow of the . In 1970 Goffman became a cofounder of the American Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Mental Hospitalization and coauthored its Platform Statement. In 1971 he published ''Relations in Public'', in which he tied together many of his ideas about everyday life, seen from a sociological perspective. Another major book of his, ''Frame Analysis'', came out in 1974. He received a for 1977–78. In 1979, Goffman received the Cooley-Mead Award for Distinguished Scholarship, from the Section on Social Psychology of the American Sociological Association. He was elected the 73rd president of the , serving in 1981–82, but was unable to deliver the presidential address in person due to progressing illness. Posthumously, in 1983, Goffman received the Mead Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.
Influence and legacyGoffman was influenced by , , , Everett Hughes, , , , and W. Lloyd Warner. Hughes was the "most influential of his teachers", according to Tom Burns. Gary Alan Fine and Philip Manning have said that Goffman never engaged in serious dialogue with other theorists, but his work has influenced and been discussed by numerous contemporary sociologists, including , and . Though Goffman is often associated with the school of sociological thought, he did not see himself as a representative of it, and so Fine and Manning conclude that he "does not easily fit within a specific school of sociological thought". His ideas are also "difficult to reduce to a number of key themes"; his work can be broadly described as developing "a comparative, qualitative sociology that aimed to produce generalizations about human behavior". Goffman made substantial advances in the study of , elaborated the " dramaturgical approach" to , and developed numerous concepts that have had a massive influence, particularly in the field of the micro-sociology of everyday life. Much of his work was about the organization of everyday behavior, a concept he termed "interaction order". He contributed to the sociological concept of framing ( ), to (the concept of strategic interaction), and to the study of interactions and . With regard to the latter, he argued that the activity of speaking must be seen as a rather than a linguistic construct. From a methodological perspective, Goffman often employed qualitative approaches, specifically , most famously in his study of social aspects of , in particular the functioning of total institutions. Overall, his contributions are valued as an attempt to create a theory that bridges the agency-and-structure divide—for popularizing , , , ethnographic studies, and the study and importance of individual interactions. His influence extended far beyond sociology: for example, his work provided the assumptions of much current research in language and social interaction within the discipline of communication. Goffman defined "impression management" as a person's attempts to present an acceptable image to those around them, verbally or nonverbally. This definition is based on Goffman's idea that people see themselves as others view them, so they attempt to see themselves as if they are outside looking in. Goffman was also dedicated to discovering the subtle ways humans present acceptable images by concealing information that may conflict with the images for a particular situation, such as concealing tattoos when applying for a job in which tattoos would be inappropriate, or hiding a bizarre obsession such as collecting/interacting with dolls, which society may see as abnormal. Goffman broke from and in that while he did not reject the way people perceive themselves, he was more interested in the actual physical proximity or the "interaction order" that molds the self. In other words, Goffman believed that impression management can be achieved only if the audience is in sync with a person's self-perception. If the audience disagrees with the image someone is presenting then their self-presentation is interrupted. People present images of themselves based on how society thinks they should act in a particular situation. This decision how to act is based on the concept of definition of the situation. Definitions are all predetermined and people choose how they will act by choosing the proper behavior for the situation they are in. Goffman also draws from William Thomas for this concept. Thomas believed that people are born into a particular social class and that the definitions of the situations they will encounter have already been defined for them. For instance. when an individual from an upper-class background goes to a black-tie affair, the definition of the situation is that they must mind their manners and act according to their class. In 2007 by ''The Times Higher Education Guide'' listed Goffman as the sixth most-cited author in the and s, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Habermas. His popularity with the general public has been attributed to his writing style, described as "sardonic, satiric, jokey", and as "ironic and self-consciously literary", and to its being more accessible than that of most academics. His style has also been influential in academia, and is credited with popularizing a less formal style in academic publications. Interestingly, if he is rightly so credited, he may by this means have contributed to a remodelling of the norms of academic behaviour, particularly of communicative action, arguably liberating intellectuals from social restraints unnatural to some of them. His students included Carol Brooks Gardner, Charles Goodwin, Marjorie Goodwin, John Lofland, Gary Marx, , , David Sudnow and . Despite his influence, according to Fine and Manning there are "remarkably few scholars who are continuing his work", nor has there been a "Goffman school"; thus his impact on has been simultaneously "great and modest". Fine and Manning attribute the lack of subsequent Goffman-style research and writing to the nature of his style, which they consider very difficult to duplicate (even "mimic-proof"), and also to his subjects' not being widely valued in the social sciences. Of his style, Fine and Manning remark that he tends to be seen either as a scholar whose style is difficult to reproduce, and therefore daunting to those who might wish to emulate it, or as a scholar whose work was transitional, bridging the work of the Chicago school and that of contemporary sociologists, and thus of less interest to sociologists than the classics of either of those groups. Of his subjects, Fine and Manning observe that the topic of behavior in public places is often stigmatized as trivial and unworthy of serious scholarly attention. Nonetheless, Fine and Manning note that Goffman is "the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century". Elliott and Turner see him as "a revered figure—an outlaw theorist who came to exemplify the best of the sociological imagination", and "perhaps the first postmodern sociological theorist".
Early worksGoffman's early works consist of his graduate writings of 1949–53. His master's thesis was a survey of audience responses to a radio soap opera, '' Big Sister''. One of its most important elements was a critique of his research methodology—of experimental logic and of variable analysis. Other writings from the period include ''Symbols of Class Status'' (1951) and ''On Cooling the Mark Out'' (1952). His doctoral dissertation, ''Communication Conduct in an Island Community'' (1953), presented a model of communication strategies in , and focused on how everyday s affect public projections of self.
''Presentation of Self''Goffman's '' '' was published in 1956, with a revised edition in 1959. He had developed the book's core ideas from his doctoral dissertation. It was Goffman's first and most famous book, for which he received the 's 1961 MacIver Award. Goffman describes the performances that occur in face-to-face interactions. He holds that when someone comes in contact with another person, he attempts to control or guide the impression the other person will form of him, by altering his own setting, appearance and manner. At the same time, the second person attempts to form an impression of, and obtain information about, the first person. Goffman also believes that participants in social interactions engage in certain practices to avoid embarrassing themselves or others. Society is not homogeneous; we must act differently in different settings. This recognition led Goffman to his dramaturgical analysis. He saw a connection between the kinds of "acts" that people put on in their daily lives and theatrical performances. In a social interaction, as in a theatrical performance, there is an onstage area where actors (people) appear before the audience; this is where positive self-concepts and desired impressions are offered. But there is also a backstage—a hidden, private area where people can be themselves and drop their societal s and identities.
''Asylums''Goffman is sometimes credited with having coined the term "total institution", though Fine and Manning note that he had heard it in lectures by Everett Hughes in reference to any institution in which people are treated alike and in which behavior is regulated. Regardless of whether Goffman coined the term, he popularized it with his 1961 book ''Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates''. The book has been described as "ethnography of the concept of the total institution". It was one of the first sociological examinations of the social situation of mental patients in s and a major contribution to understanding of social aspects of . The book comprises four essays: "Characteristics of Total Institutions" (1957); "The Moral Career of the Mental Patient" (1959); "The Underlife of a Public Institution: A Study of Ways of Making Out in a Mental Hospital"; and "The Medical Model and Mental Hospitalization: Some Notes on the Vicissitudes of the Tinkering Trades". The first three focus on the experiences of patients; the last, on professional-client interactions. Goffman is mainly concerned with the details of psychiatric hospitalization and the nature and effects of the process he calls "institutionalization". He describes how institutionalization socializes people into the role of a good patient, someone "dull, harmless and inconspicuous"—a condition that in turn reinforces notions of in severe mental illness. Total institutions greatly affect people's interactions; yet even in such places, people find ways to redefine their roles and reclaim their identities. '' Asylums'' has been credited with helping catalyze the reform of systems in a number of countries, leading to reductions in the numbers of large mental hospitals and of the people locked up in them. It was also influential in the movement.
''Behavior in Public Places''In ''Behavior in Public Places'' (1963), Goffman again focuses on everyday public interactions. He draws distinctions between several types of public gatherings ("gatherings", "situations", "social occasions") and types of audiences (acquainted versus unacquainted).
''Stigma''Goffman's book ''Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity'' (1963) examines how, to protect their identities when they depart from approved standards of behavior or appearance, people manage impressions of themselves, mainly through concealment. pertains to the shame a person may feel when he or she fails to meet other people's standards, and to the fear of being discredited—which causes the person not to reveal his or her shortcomings. Thus a person with a may simply withhold that information for fear of judgment by whomever that person happens to encounter.
''Interaction Ritual''Goffman's ''Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior'' is a collection of six essays. The first four were originally published in the 1950s, the fifth in 1964, and the last was written for the collection. They include "On Face-work" (1955); "Embarrassment and Social Organization" (1956); "The Nature of Deference and Demeanor" (1956); "Alienation from Interaction" (1957); "Mental Symptoms and Public Order" (1964); and "Where the Action Is". The first essay, "On Face-work", discusses the concept of , which is the positive self-image a person holds when interacting with others. Goffman believes that "as a sociological construct of interaction is neither inherent in nor a permanent aspect of the person". Once someone offers a positive self-image of him- or herself to others, they feel a need to maintain and live up to that image. Inconsistency in how a person projects him- or herself in society risks embarrassment and discredit. So people remain guarded to ensure that they do not show themselves to others in an unfavorable light.
''Strategic Interaction''Goffman's book ''Strategic Interaction'' (1969) is his contribution to . It discusses the compatibility of game theory with the legacy of the Chicago School of sociology and with the perspective of . It is one of his few works that clearly engage with that perspective. Goffman's view on game theory was shaped by the works of . Goffman presents reality as a form of game, and discusses its rules and the various moves that players can make (the "unwitting", the "naive", the "covering", the "uncovering", and the "counter-uncovering") while trying to get or hide an information.
''Frame Analysis''Goffman credited for creating the idea of framing and psychological frames. ''Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience'' (1974) is Goffman's attempt to explain how conceptual – ways to organize experience – structure an individual's perception of society. This book is thus about the organization of experience rather than the organization of society. A frame is a set of concepts and theoretical perspectives that organize experiences and guide the actions of individuals, groups and societies. Frame analysis, then, is the study of the organization of social experience. To illustrate the concept of the frame, Goffman gives the example of a picture frame: a person uses the frame (which represents structure) to hold together his picture (which represents the content) of what he is experiencing in his life. The most basic frames are called primary frameworks. A primary framework takes an individual's experience or an aspect of a scene that would originally be meaningless and makes it meaningful. One type of primary framework is a natural framework, which identifies situations in the natural world and is completely environment (biophysical), biophysical, with no human influences. The other type of framework is a social framework, which explains events and connects them to humans. An example of a natural framework is the weather, and an example of a social framework is a meteorologist who weather forecast, predicts the weather. Focusing on the social frameworks, Goffman seeks to "construct a general statement regarding the structure, or form, of experiences individuals have at any moment of their social life". Goffman saw this book as his ''Masterpiece, magnum opus'', but it was not as popular as his earlier works.
''The Frame Analyses of Talk''In ''Frame Analysis'', Erving Goffman provides a platform for understanding and interpreting the interaction between individuals engaging speech communication. In the chapter "The Frame Analyses of Talk," the focus is put on how words are exchanged and what is being said, specifically in informal talk or conversation. The concept of framing is introduced through an exploration of why misunderstandings occur in these basic, everyday conversations. He argues that they are more errors in verbal framing than anything else. The types of frames Goffman is considering are discussed in previous Frame analysis, sections of the book, "fabrications, keyings, frame breaks, misframing, and, of course, frame disputes." That a frame can assume so many forms is the basis of his analyses, "these framings are subject to a multitude of different transformations − the warrant for a frame analysis in the first place." Goffman's key idea is that most conversation is simply a replaying of a strip – what he describes as a personal experience or event. When we talk with others, the speaker's goal is often always the same, to provide "evidence for the fairness or unfairness of his current situation and other grounds for sympathy, approval, exoneration, understanding, or amusement. And what his listeners are primarily obliged to do is to show some kind of audience appreciation." Essentially, through interaction, we are only looking to be heard, not inspire any kind of action but simply to know that someone listened and understood. This is why often a simple head nod or grunt is accepted as an appropriate response in conversation. Goffman explains that the way a conversation is keyed is critical to understanding the intent behind many utterances in everyday speech. Key is probably best understood as the tone of the dialogue which can change numerous times during an interaction. Signaling a change in key is one way that framing often takes place, "special brackets will have to be introduced should he want to say something in a relatively serious way: "Kidding aside," "Now, I'm really serious about this," and other such tags become necessary as a means of momentarily down keying the flow of words." Folklorist Richard Bauman builds heavily on Goffman's work, specifically on the idea of key, in his work pertaining to an analysis of the performance frame. Bauman details that a performance is dependent on it being properly keyed, without this, the display will not be successful. His work on performance analyses is deeply indebted to what Goffman establishes here in "Frame Analyses." Context is one other element to framing that is essential. "The participants will be bound by norms of good manners: through frequency and length of turns at talk, through topics avoided, through circumspection in regard to references about self, through attention offered eagerly or begrudgingly-through all these means, rank and social relationship will be given their due." Certain things can and will be said in one scenario that would never be uttered in another. An awareness of these social framings is critical, just as is an awareness of the audience. Depending on who you're speaking with (a teacher, a child, a loved one, a friend, a pet, etc.) you will curve your speech to fit the frame of what your intended audience is expecting. Goffman uses the metaphor of conversation being a stage play. A plays tone will shift throughout the performance due to the actions taken by the actors; this is similar to how a discussion is keyed – based on what either person says or does over the course of an interaction, the key will change accordingly. The parallels go further, though. Goffman also claims that a speaker details a drama more often than they provide information. They invite the listener to empathize and, as was explained above, they're often not meant to be stirred to take action, but rather to show appreciation; during a play this generally takes the form of applause. Other similarities include engaging in the suspense the speaker is attempting to create. In both scenarios, you must put aside the knowledge that the performers know the outcome of the event being relayed and, in a sense, play along. This is integral to his stance as he explains "the argument that much of talk consists of replayings and that these make no sense unless some form of storyteller's suspense can be maintained shows the close relevance of frame-indeed, the close relevance of dramaturgy-for the organization of talk." Lastly, because the replaying of strips is not extemporaneous, but rather preformulated, it is yet another parallel between a stage production and conversation. All of these things work in concert to provide a foundation of how talk is framed.
''Gender Advertisements''In ''Gender Advertisements'', Goffman analyzes how gender is represented in the advertising to which all individuals are commonly exposed.[Goffman, Erving. Gender Advertisements. New York: Harper & Row, 1979 Print.] # Relative Size: According to Goffman, relative size can be defined as "one way in which social weight–power, authority, rank, office, renown − is echoed expressively in social situations through relative size, especially height". With relative size, women are generally shown smaller or lower than men in terms of girth and height. Although men tend to be biologically taller or larger than females, Goffman suggests that this size difference is manipulated in man-made advertisements to convey difference in status or power in certain social situations. The concept that relative size conveys social status remains relevant even when women are portrayed as the taller or larger individual on screen or in print. Goffman states that on the few occasions when women are pictured taller than men, the men seem almost always to be subordinated in social class status and/or depicted as inferior. The tallest man, the man in front, or the man who has attention drawn to him in the advertisement is to represent strength and power, while women are often represented as weak or less significant to the advertisement. # Feminine Touch: Women are frequently depicted touching persons or objects in a ritualistic manner, occasionally just barely touching the object or person. Goffman argues that "females in advertising are frequently posing while "using their fingers and hands to trace the outlines of an object, or to cradle it or to caress its surface". This ritualistic touching is to be distinguished from the utilitarian kind that grasps, manipulates, or holds". This type of touch encourages the idea that women are sexually available, weak, and vulnerable in the sense of their agency, body language and individuality in relation to men. # Modern Shift: In today's society, we are beginning to see a shift in gender representation in the media particularly in the male fashion industry. Fashion designers are now starting to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity. In the first advertisement, the male has a very soft delicate hold on the rose compared to the typical aggressive grip men exhibit in ads. In the other two examples, both men are not only portraying the idea of feminine touch but the concept of self-touch as well. # Function Ranking: Goffman explains that function ranking is when men and women collaborate to complete a task, the man takes the 'executive role'. Goffman exemplifies this advertising phenomena as illustrated in the workplace, at home, in public, and with children. The idea is that women are portrayed as the lesser role in the scene, and that the men are in charge. This role is only portrayed in collaborative environments. "Two of Goffman's categories-Relative Size and Function Ranking-were not prevalent depictions in magazine advertisements. Overall, many advertisements showed only females or males rather than the two genders together or a family scene. This might mean that advertisements are frequently targeting more specific audiences." "What Erving Goffman shares with contemporary feminists is the felt conviction that beneath the surface of ordinary social behaviour innumerable small murders of the mind and spirit take place daily." # The Family: When families are depicted in advertising, parents are shown to be closer to their children of the same gender and in some instances men are shown separate from the rest of the family, in a protective manner. The father tends to maintain a distance with his family members. This act shows protectiveness, according to Goffman. The father is the security for the family, the protector and provider. # Ritualization of Subordination: Ritualization of Subordination serves to demonstrate power and superiority, or lack of, through body positioning techniques such as head cant, body cant, feminine touch, licensed withdrawal, bashful knee bend, lying down, and more. Power and superiority is typically associated with masculinity while vulnerability and objectification is usually associated with femininity.Goffman, Erving. Gender Advertisements. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Print. # Licensed Withdrawal: When a subject is pictured in an advertisement as looking away in the distance, looking down at an object, appearing lost, inattentive, hopeless, confused or upset. This often shows the person being removed from the scene itself or lost in thought. This subject can be female in most cases, but male in some as well. Scott Morris and Katherine Warren further explain this term by saying, "When women are not presented as withdrawn, they are presented as over engaged, to the point of losing control: laughing uncontrollably or overcome with extreme emotion."
''Forms of Talk''Goffman's book, ''Forms of Talk'' (1981), includes five essays: "Replies and Responses" (1976); "Response Cries" (1978); "Footing" (1979); "The Lecture" (1976); and "Radio Talk" (1981). Each essay addresses both verbal and non-verbal communication through a sociolinguistic model. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the study of Conversation, talk. In the introduction, Goffman identifies three themes that recur throughout the text: " ization, participation framework, and embedding". The first essay, "Replies and Responses", concerns "conversational dialogue" and the way people respond during a conversation, both verbally and non-verbally. The second essay, "Response Cries", considers the use of utterances and their social implications in different social contexts. Specifically, Goffman discusses "self-talk" (talking to no one in particular) and its role in social situations. Next, in "Footing", Goffman addresses the way that footing, or alignment, can shift during a conversation. The fourth essay, "The Lecture", originally an oral presentation, describes different types and methods of lecture. Lastly, in "Radio Talk", Goffman describes the types and forms of talk used in radio programming and the effect they have on listeners.
PositionsIn his career, Goffman worked at the: * , Division of Social Sciences, Chicago: assistant, 1952–53; resident associate, 1953–54; * National Institute of Mental Health, : visiting scientist, 1954–57; * : assistant professor, 1957–59; professor, 1959–62; professor of sociology, 1962–68; * , Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, 1969–82.
Selected works* 1959: '' ''. University of Edinburgh Social Sciences Research Centre. . Anchor Books edition * 1961: '' Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates''. New York, Doubleday. * 1961: ''Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction – Fun in Games & Role Distance''. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill. * 1963: ''Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings''. The Free Press. * 1963: ''Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity''. Prentice-Hall. * 1967: ''Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior''. Anchor Books. * 1969: ''Strategic Interaction''. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. * 1969: ''Where the action is''. Allen Lane. * 1971: ''Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order''. New York: Basic Books. (includes discussion of "Tie Signs") * 1974: ''Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience''. London: Harper and Row. * 1979: ''Gender Advertisements''. Macmillan. * 1981: ''Forms of Talk''. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
See also*Franco Basaglia *Civil inattention *Deinstitutionalization *''The Radical Therapist''
Bibliography* * * * **Also available as: * * * *
Further reading* Dirda, Michael (2010). "Waiting for Goffman", ''Lapham's Quarterly'' (Vol 3 No 4). ISSN 1935-7494 * Ditton, Jason (1980). ''The View of Goffman'', New York:St. Martin's Press * * * * * * *