To the Western Isles: The Visions of Goffman and Synge



The need to secure a defining image and to lay out a disciplinary domain arises most pressingly in introductory textbooks. Responding to a query, ‘what is sociology?’ Macionis and Plummer (2005: 4) defined it as ‘a form of consciousness, a way of thinking, a critical way of seeing the social’. Sociology sees in two ways that underline its particular ocular powers. At one end lies observer participation. It offers systematic discernments chronicled in a disinterested manner well fitted to meet claims for scientific respectability. At the other end, the hidden depths of culture are noted, but sociology claims to itself a capacity to reveal what the ill-disposed conceal. Thus, in the defining image sociology sets for itself, the discipline portrays itself as laden with ocular gifts. All pertaining to the social belongs to its gaze, and what the eye of perception will not reveal, the prophetic powers of sociological analysis will disclose.


Visual Dimension Sociological Imagination Visual Culture Interaction Ritual Introductory Textbook 
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Copyright information

© Kieran Flanagan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolUK

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