Early Goffman: Style, Structure, Substance, Soul

  • John Lofland


In the early nineteen sixties a happy chorus began to chant adulations around the work of Erving Goffman. The litany included such endearments as ‘remarkable’, ‘brilliant’, ‘insightful’, ‘meaningful’, ‘trenchant’, ‘landmarking’, ‘fascinating’, and ‘masterful’.1 I want in this chapter to ask: About what was there suddenly so much enthusiasm? My answer takes the form of delineating what appear to be the main features of Erving Goffman’s early sociological work, the work he published in the fifties and early sixties.2


Posit Metaphor 


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Chapter Endnotes

  1. 1.
    See, for example: Victor A. Thompson, Modern Organization, (New York: Knopf, 1961) p. 138; Reviews of Goffman by Naegele (1956, R2), and Perry (1956, R3) [see: Editor’s Introduction for a fuller list in A Sampler of Reviews]Google Scholar
  2. Ernest Becker, ‘Socialization, Command Performance and Mental Illness’, American Journal of Sociology, volume LXVII: p. 495 (March, 1962); announcement of the MacIver Award of the American Sociological Association, American Sociological Review, Volume 26: p. 834 (December, 1961 )Google Scholar
  3. Alvin W. Gouldner, ‘Anti-Minotaur: The Myth of a Value-Free Sociology’, Social Problems, Volume 9: p. 208 (Winter, 1962 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Sheldon L. Messinger, et al., ‘Life as Theater’, Sociometry, Volume 25: pp. 98–109 (September, 1962 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    Kenneth Burke, Permanence and Change, ( New York; New Republic, Inc., 1936 ) p. 119.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Hans L. Zetterberg, On Theory and Verification in Sociology, (New York; Tressler, 1954 ).Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action, (Glencoe; The Free Press, 1949) esp. PP. 89–94.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    In the sense used by Talcott Parsons, The Social System, (Glencoe; The Free Press, 1950) fn. 7, p. 36.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    Abraham Kaplan, The New World of Philosophy, ( New York: Random House, 1961 ) p. 104.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    Jean Paul Sartre, ‘Existentialism as a Humanism’, in W. Kaufmann, (ed), Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre,(New York: Meridian Books, 1956) p. 291, 301.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Lofland 1980

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  • John Lofland

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