Erving Goffman Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Erving Goffman received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto in his native Canada in 1945. His master’s and doctorate were granted by the University of Chicago in 1949 and 1953, respectively; there he studied both sociology and social anthropology. While working on his doctorate, he spent a year on one of the smaller of the Shetland Islands gathering material for his dissertation and his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, published in 1956. Very successful, the book is available in at least ten different languages and has been almost continuously in print. It and Goffman’s subsequent books were to be tremendously influential in the fields of sociology and social psychology.

In 1958 Goffman joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, and he was promoted to full professor in 1962. He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, where he became the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology. In 1977 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Just prior to his death, Goffman served as president of the American Sociological Association in 1981-1982.

In the 1970’s Goffman served on the Committee for the Study of Incarceration, an appointment that grew from his work Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates; prior to that he also served as a “visiting scientist” to the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where he began the research that led to this book. Asylums is a penetrating analysis of the significance of social structure in producing conforming behavior, especially in environments...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Burns, Tom. Erving Goffman. New York: Routledge, 1992. Not a biography of Goffman’s life, but a sociological examination of his work; this book also contains a bibliographic listing of Goffman’s books.

Collins, Randall, ed. Four Sociological Traditions: Selected Reading. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Randall edits and introduces essays in this work, which reprints parts of two of Erving Goffman’s essays, “The Nature of Deference and Demeanor” (1956) and “Frame Analysis” (1974) while explaining that Goffman moved from the tradition of anthropological type sociological study to the micro-sociological perspective of the interactionist tradition.

Contemporary Authors. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale Group, 1995. Contains a short biographical sketch and a listing of magazine articles of critical review of Goffman’s work.

Ditton, Jason, ed. The View from Goffman. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980. A collection of critical essays on Goffman’s contributions to sociology and includes a bibliography of Goffman’s work through that year.

Drew, Paul, and Anthony Wootton, eds. Erving Goffman: Exploring the Interaction Order. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988. Collection of essays exploring Goffman’s “contribution to the study of forms of human association.”

Fine, Gary Alan, and Gregory W. H. Smith, eds. Erving Goffman. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2000. Biography, history, and criticism of Goffman.

Manning, Philip. Erving Goffman and Modern Sociology. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 1992. Explores Goffman’s contributions to the field of sociology.