3
Interaction’s Orderliness

Encounters are everywhere, but it is difficult to describe
sociologically the stuff they are made of.

(Goffman 1961b: 19)

Goffman was unparalleled in sociologically explicating the constituent elements of the interaction order. Yet nowhere did he offer a consolidated statement of what his sociology of the interaction order had achieved. The posthumously published, ‘The interaction order’, might have been hoped to provide a conclusive theoretical integration. In the event, the last paper that he knew would be published did give a sketch of interaction’s basic units, structures and processes. It was an all-toobrief account, however, only cursorily connected to his more substantial writings. Goffman’s analytic frameworks manifest clear systematic intent, without any apparent wish to build a system. Goffman’s ideas seem to be continually in process, reaching no final resting place. The difficulties for any commentator seeking to specify the key elements of the sociology of the interaction order are obvious, part of a more general criticism of Goffman’s method (see Chapter 8). However, it would be a mistake to suppose that Goffman’s ideas about interaction did not cumulate or lacked a systematic basis. Certain terms and themes recur throughout Goffman’s writings. In these terms and themes we can locate the central topics and preoccupations of Goffman’s sociology of the interaction order. These are: a general social psychology of interactional expressivity; a set of basic concepts of co-presence; and extended

-33-

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Erving Goffman
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • 1 - Goffman’s Project 1
  • 2 - Origins and Emergence 12
  • 3 - Interaction’s Orderliness 33
  • 4 - Framing Experience 55
  • 5 - Asylums 68
  • 6 - Spoiled Identity and Gender Difference 84
  • 7 - Self 95
  • 8 - Methods and Textuality 110
  • 9 - After Goffman 125
  • Further Reading 130
  • References 133
  • Index 143
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