Erving Goffman: A Biography. Essay

802 words - 3 pages

June 11, 1922 was a day that would change the world of sociology forever. This was the day that Erving Manual Goffman, czar of human interaction, was born. Goffman grew up in Dauphin, Alberta, Canada near Winnipeg (Manning 1998). He was the child of Max Goffman, a shopkeeper, and his wife Anna, a homemaker. His parents were two of some 200,000 Ukrainians who immigrated to Canada sometime between 1897 and 1914 (Manning 1998). Goffman attended the University of Manitoba in 1939 with an initial interest in chemistry. However, in 1934 and 1935 Goffman worked at the National Film Board in Ottawa where he met Dennis Wrong, a prominent sociologist at the time (Manning 1998). This was the spark he needed for him to continue on his true path of discovery that lead to the world of sociology. Goffman ended up leaving the University of Manitoba for the University of Toronto where he received a B.A. in Sociology in 1945 (Manning 1998). Goffman continued his education at the famous University of Chicago receiving both his masters and doctorate there (Gale Group2001). After doing an ethnographic study in Scotland for his doctoral dissertation he returned to Chicago and married Angelica Choate, a fellow University of Chicago student. Goffman's first and most well known and respected work is The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. This is where Goffman developed the idea of dramaturgy. His work focused on human interactions with each other in everyday social situations. Or in Goffman's words "detailing one sociological perspective from which social life can be studied, especially the kind of social life that is organized within the physical confines of a building or plant." (Goffman 1959) From his research he concluded that we all play "roles" in our everyday lives, and these roles vary from situation to situation as well asperson to person. In effect, the way we act when around our family is completely different from the "role" we play when out with our friends. Dramaturgy is still a widely accepted and studied phenomenon.After spending a great deal of time on Dramaturgy and human interactions Goffman turned his attention to the mental health industry with his work Asylums: Essays on the Social Situtation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Goffman was interested in finding out how individual...

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