Part of the SAGE Social Thinker series, this book serves as a concise and inviting introduction to the life and works of Erving Goffman, one of the most prominent social theorists in postwar sociology. Goffman's ideas continue to influence scholars in various fields and have also attracted many readers outside conventional academia. Goffman's overall research agenda was the exploration of what he termed the interaction order—that is, the micro social order that regulates the co-mingling of people in each other's immediate presence. He coined several new concepts (face-work, impression management, role distance, civil inattention, etc.) with which to grasp and understand the complexities and basic social restructuring of everyday life, many of which are now part of sociology's standard vocabulary.
Throughout the years, many things have been written and said about Erving Goffman, many stories and snippets of gossip wander, many myths prevail, numerous pieces of recollection and remembrance are published by former students, colleagues, and friends, and a lot of labels and epithets have been suggested to capture his life and work. For example, Albert Bergesen (1984) once called Goffman a “world calibre American contribution to sociological theory,” Randall Collins (1981a) termed him a “hero-anthropologist,” an “explorer of our social unconscious,” and a “theoretically oriented empiricist,” Allen Grimshaw (1983) named him a “genuine original,” Pierre Bourdieu (1983) shortly after Goffman's death described him as the “discoverer of the infinitely small,” Paul Bouissac (1990) labeled him a “comedian-experimenter,” while Alvin W. Gouldner ...