Fiction in Goffman

Smith, GWH ORCID: 2022, 'Fiction in Goffman' , The Sociological Review, 70 (4) , pp. 711-722.

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There are no references to creative fiction in Erving Goffman’s founding statement of his sociology of the interaction order, his 1953 Chicago doctoral dissertation ( Communication Conduct in an Island Community). Yet four pages into his first and best-known book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), Goffman cites a ‘novelistic incident’ describing the posturing of Preedy, a ‘vacationing Englishman’ on a Spanish beach. It is introduced in order to articulate the distinction between ‘expressions given’ and ‘expressions given off’ and to indicate their capacity for intentional or unintentional engineering. The page-long passage about Preedy, found in a 1956 collection of William Sansom’s short stories, is often mentioned in reviews and summaries of Goffman’s groundbreaking book. This article describes the types of fiction drawn upon by Goffman and examines the ‘work’ that fictional illustrations distinctively do in his writings. The discussion sheds light not only on why Goffman elected to include fictional illustrative materials in his sociology and why eventually he dropped their use, it also underscores some strengths and limits of the fictional for interactional analysis in sociology.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: The Sociological Review
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1467-954X
SWORD Depositor: Publications Router
Depositing User: Publications Router
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2022 13:54
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 14:00

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