Networks, Narratives, and Interaction
Bruner (1973: xi) described this duality as follows:“our knowledge of the world is not merely a mirroring or reflection of order and structure ‘out there,’ but consists rather of a construct or model that can, so to speak, be spun a bit ahead of things to predict how the world will be or might be”
- Meaning making
- Folk Culture
- Active Learning
- Karl Weick
- Dirk Baecker
- Jerome Bruner
- Erving Goffman
- George Spencer Brown
- Charles Sanders Peirce
- Social Interactions
- Strategic Interactions
- Cultural Psychology
- Social Systems
- Individual and Collective
- Symbolic Interactions
- Face Work
- Face to Face
- Micro Sociology
- Kenneth Burke
- Chain of Events
- Sequence of Events
- Time Space
- Choices, Conflicts, Dilemmas
- Constraints, Limits, Boundaries
- Networks, Connections, Interaction
- Social Simulation
- Discrete Events
- Scenes, Scenarios
- Games and Dramas
- Colors, Tones
- Interaction Rituals
- Interaction Order
- LL and LR Quadrants in AQAL Model of Ken Wilber
- Many Faces of Man
- Backstage and Frontstage
- Russell Ackoff’s Interaction Planning
- Faces, Masks, and Rituals
- Frame Analysis
- Self and Others
- Social Constructivism
- Agent Based Modeling
- Cellular Automata
- Computational Sociology
- Micro Motives and Macro Behavior
- Strategic Conversations
- Boundaries and Distinctions
- Networks and Boundaries
Jerome Bruner ON Narratives
Source: Chapter 1 Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method
… Narrative as a mode of knowing …
In 1984 at an address to the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jerome Bruner challenged the psychological community to consider the possibilities of narrative as one of two distinct and distinctive modes of thinking, namely the “paradigmatic” or logico-scientific mode and the narrative mode. For Bruner, each mode constituted a unique way of construing and constructing reality and of ordering experience. Importantly, neither of these modes was reducible to the other, as each was necessary in the development of human thought and action. Taking up these ideas in later writings, Bruner (1986) presents the narrative mode of meaning-making as one that “looks for particular conditions and is centred around the broader and more inclusive question of the meaning of experience” (p. 11), whilst the paradigmatic mode is characterised as one that is more concerned with establishing universal truth conditions.
Bruner has pursued the notion of “narrative” modes of thinking and explored the ways in which we draw on “narrative” modes of knowing as a learning process (1996a). For Bruner, we construct our understandings of the world “mainly in the form of narrative – stories, excuses, myths, reasons for doing and not doing, and so on” (2003, p. 44). In earlier writings, he points to the power and import of narrative as a meaning-making process, commenting that “our capacity to render experience in terms of narrative is not just child’s play, but an instrument for making meaning that dominates much of life in culture – from soliloquies at bedtime to the weighing of testimony in our legal system” (1990, p. 97). Importantly, Bruner suggests that our “sensitivity” to narrative constitutes a major link between our “sense of self and our sense of others in the social world around us” (1986, p. 69) and is the mode through which we “create a version of the world” with which we can live (1996a, p. 39).
Bruner’s work in the field of cognitive psychology constitutes one way in which narrative has been conceptualised within scholarship and has led to the establishment of the field of narrative psychology. It is perhaps serendipitous that Bruner’s account of the narrative mode of thinking occurred at a time of growing interest in the ways in which narrative might be drawn upon for research and inquiry purposes. As educators and scholars took up the “call of stories” (Coles, 1989) to provide alternative means to explore, interrogate, interpret, and record experience, “it helped that the messenger was Bruner, an enormously powerful scholar with unusual cross-disciplinary knowledge, stature, and impact, who ventured to articulate what narrative could mean to the social sciences at large” (Bresler, 2006, p. 23). Crucially, Bruner’s work leads us to consider narrative as more than a means of presenting meaning and to consider the role of narrative and narrative forms in “re-presenting,” in the sense of constructing meaning, both individually and collectively. For Bruner, narrative operates simultaneously in both thought and action, shaping the ways in which we conceive and respond to our worlds. In short, all cognition, whatever its nature, relies upon representation, how we lay down our knowledge in a way to represent our experience of the world . . . representation is a process of construction, as it were, rather than of mere reflection of the world (Bruner, 1996b, p. 95).
Here, a narrative might become a “template for experience” (Bruner, 2002, p. 34) that works on the mind, modelling “not only its world but the minds seeking to give it its meanings” (p. 27). This move from narrative as “story presented” to narrative as a “form of meaning-making,” indeed, a form of “mind-making,” has played an important role in the development of narrative as a method of inquiry in the social sciences.
Source: INTRODUCTION: BRUNER’S WAY/ David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker
Another reason why Bruner is an ideal focus is his role in two crucial paradigm shifts in twentieth-century psychology. In the 1950s, he was an instrumental figure in the cognitive revolution, which restored to psychology the inner life of the mind after decades of arid behaviourist objectivism. Cognitive psychology prospered and, in league with other fields, evolved into ‘cognitive science’, conceived as a systematic inter- disciplinary approach to the study of mind (see Gardner, 1985). Bruner, however, gradually grew more and more dissatisfied with what cognitivism had become. In 1990, he published Acts of Meaning, in which he argued that the cognitive revolution had betrayed the impulse that had brought it into being. The revolution’s principal concern, Bruner argued, had been to return the concept of meaning to the forefront of psychological theorizing. But cognitivism had become so enamoured of computational models of the mind that it had replaced behaviourism’s impoverished view of the person with one no better: human beings as information processors. In response, Bruner argued forcefully that meaning is not a given, but something made by human beings as they negotiate the world. Meaning is a cultural, not computational, phenomenon. And since meaning is the medium of the mental, culture is constitutive of mind.
In many ways, Bruner’s objection was familiar. It had often been lamented that mainstream psychology was individualistic and scientistic, representing minds as self-contained mental atoms and ignoring the social and cultural influences upon them. In the last decade, however, this well-known critique has really been gaining momentum. Besides Bruner, both Richard Shweder (1990) and Michael Cole (1996) have sounded the call for a new ‘cultural psychology’. Assorted versions of ‘constructionist’ and ‘discursive’ psychology have appeared on the scene, joining a veritable chorus of diverse voices urging that psychology treat the mind as a sociocultural phenomenon (e.g., Edwards and Potter, 1992; Harré and Gillett, 1994; Gergen, 1999). It is particularly striking that these voices no longer come exclusively from the margins. Just as the left/right divide is collapsing in political theory, so the dichotomy between mainstream ‘individualistic/scientistic/Cartesian’ psychology and radical ‘communitarian/interpretative/post-Cartesian’ psychology has become outmoded. Cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind now commonly acknowledge that no plausible account of the mind can be indifferent to the context in which we think and act, and some significant works have appeared devoted to the cultural origins, and social realization, of human mentality (e.g., Donald, 1991). A psychologist interested in culture is no longer a counter-cultural figure.
Source: The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach
From diverse sources it is possible to identify four features of a reframed narrativity particularly relevant for the social sciences:1) relationality of parts, 2) causal emplotment, 3) selective appropriation, and 4) temporality, sequence and place.43 Together, these dimensions suggest narratives are constellations of relationships (connected parts) embedded in time and space, constituted by causal emplotment. Unlike the attempt to produce meaning by placing an event in a specified category, narrativity precludes sense making of a singular isolated phenomenon. Narrativity demands that we discern the meaning of any single event only in temporal and spatial relationship to other events. Indeed, the chief characteristic of narrative is that it renders understanding only by connecting (however unstably) parts to a constructed configuration or a social network of relationships (however incoherent or unrealizable) composed of symbolic, institutional, and material practices 4.4
Source: CHAPTER 2 SELF-MAKING AND WORLD-MAKING
Narrative accounts must have at least two characteristics. They should center upon people and their intentional states: their desires, beliefs, and so on; and they should focus on how these intentional states led to certain kinds of activities. Such an account should also be or appear to be order preserving, in the sense of preserving or appearing to preserve sequence — the sequential properties of which life itself consists or is supposed to consist. Now, in the nature of things, if these points are correct, autobiographies should be about the past, should be par excellence the genre (or set of genres) composed in the past tense. So just for fun, we decided to find out whether in fact autobiographies were all in the past tense — both the spontaneous ones we had collected and a sample of literary autobiographies.
We have never found a single one where past-tense verbs constituted more than 70 percent of the verbs used. Autobiographies are, to be sure, about the past; but what of the 30 percent or more of their sentences that are not in the past tense? I’m sure it will be apparent without all these statistics that autobiography is not only about the past, but is busily about the present as well. If it is to bring the protagonist up to the present, it must deal with the present as well as the past — and not just at the end of the account, as it were. That is one part of it. But there is another part that is more interesting. Most of the “present-tense” aspect of autobiography has to do with what students of narrative structure call “evaluation” — the task of placing those sequential events in terms of a meaningful context. Narrative, whether looked at from the more formalistic perspective of William Labov (1982) or the more literary, historical one of Barbara Herrnstein-Smith (1986), necessarily comprises two features: one of them is telling what happened to a cast of human beings with a view to the order in which things happened. That part is greatly aided by the devices of flashback, flashforward, and the rest. But a narrative must also answer the question “Why”, “Why is this worth telling, what is interesting about it?” Not everything that happened is worth telling about, and it is not always clear why what one tells merits telling. We are bored and offended by such accounts as“I got up in the morning, got out of bed, dressed and tied my shoes, shaved, had breakfast, went off to the office and saw a graduate student who had an idea for a thesis…”
The “why tell” function imposes something of great (and hidden) significance on narrative. Not only must a narrative be about a sequence of events over time, structured comprehensibly in terms of cultural canonicality, it must also contain something that endows it with exceptionality. We had better pause for a moment and explore what this criterion of exceptionality means for autobiography and, incidentally, why it creates such a spate of present-tense clauses in the writing of autobiography.
Source: CHAPTER 2 SELF-MAKING AND WORLD-MAKING
The object of narrative, then, is to demystify deviations. Narrative solves no problems. It simply locates them in such a way as to make them comprehensible. It does so by invoking the play of psychological states and of actions that transpire when human beings interact with each other and relates these to what can usually be expected to happen. I think that Kenneth Burke has a good deal to say about this “play of psychological states” in narrative, and I think it would help to examine his ideas. In his The Grammar of Motives, he introduces the idea of “dramatism” (Burke 1945). Burke noted that dramatism was created by the interplay of five elements (he refers to them as the Pentad). These comprise an Actor who commits an Action toward a Goal with the use of some Instrument in a particular Scene. Dramatism is created, he argues, when elements of the Pentad are out of balance, lose their appropriate “ratio”. This creates Trouble, an emergent sixth element. He has much to say about what leads to the breakdown in the ratios between the elements of the dramatistic pentad. For example, the Actor and the Scene don’t fit. Nora, for example: what in the world is the rebellious Nora in A Doll’s House doing in this banal doctor’s household? Or Oedipus taking his mother Jocasta unknowingly to wife. The “appropriate ratios”, of course, are given by the canonical stances of folk psychology toward the human condition. Dramatism constitutes their patterned violation. In a classically oral culture, the great myths that circulate are the archetypal forms of violation, and these become increasingly “smoothed” and formalized — even frozen — over time, as we know from the classic studies of Russian folktales published by Vladimir Propp (1986). In more mobile literary cultures, of course, the range and variation in such tales and stories greatly increases, matching the greater complexity and widened opportunities that accompany literacy. Genres develop, new forms emerge, variety increase — at least at first. It may well be that with the emergence of mass cultures and the new massifying media, new constraints on this variation occur, but that is a topic that would take us beyond the scope of this essay (see Feldman, in this volume).
Erving Goffman On Interactionism
Goffman was influenced by Herbert Blumer, Émile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, Everett Hughes, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Talcott Parsons, Alfred Schütz, Georg Simmel and W. Lloyd Warner. Hughes was the “most influential of his teachers”, according to Tom Burns. Gary Alan Fine and Philip Manning have said that Goffman never engaged in serious dialogue with other theorists, but his work has influenced and been discussed by numerous contemporary sociologists, including Anthony Giddens, Jürgen Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu.
Though Goffman is often associated with the symbolic interaction school of sociological thought, he did not see himself as a representative of it, and so Fine and Manning conclude that he “does not easily fit within a specific school of sociological thought”. His ideas are also “difficult to reduce to a number of key themes”; his work can be broadly described as developing “a comparative, qualitative sociology that aimed to produce generalizations about human behavior”.
Goffman made substantial advances in the study of face-to-face interaction, elaborated the “dramaturgical approach” to human interaction, and developed numerous concepts that have had a massive influence, particularly in the field of the micro-sociology of everyday life. Much of his work was about the organization of everyday behavior, a concept he termed “interaction order”. He contributed to the sociological concept of framing (frame analysis), to game theory (the concept of strategic interaction), and to the study of interactions and linguistics. With regard to the latter, he argued that the activity of speaking must be seen as a social rather than a linguistic construct. From a methodological perspective, Goffman often employed qualitative approaches, specifically ethnography, most famously in his study of social aspects of mental illness, in particular the functioning of total institutions. Overall, his contributions are valued as an attempt to create a theory that bridges the agency-and-structuredivide—for popularizing social constructionism, symbolic interaction, conversation analysis, ethnographic studies, and the study and importance of individual interactions. His influence extended far beyond sociology: for example, his work provided the assumptions of much current research in language and social interaction within the discipline of communication.
Goffman defined “impression management” as a person’s attempts to present an acceptable image to those around them, verbally or nonverbally. This definition is based on Goffman’s idea that people see themselves as others view them, so they attempt to see themselves as if they are outside looking in. Goffman was also dedicated to discovering the subtle ways humans present acceptable images by concealing information that may conflict with the images for a particular situation, such as concealing tattoos when applying for a job in which tattoos would be inappropriate, or hiding a bizarre obsession such as collecting/interacting with dolls, which society may see as abnormal.
Goffman broke from George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer in that while he did not reject the way people perceive themselves, he was more interested in the actual physical proximity or the “interaction order” that molds the self. In other words, Goffman believed that impression management can be achieved only if the audience is in sync with a person’s self-perception. If the audience disagrees with the image someone is presenting then their self-presentation is interrupted. People present images of themselves based on how society thinks they should act in a particular situation. This decision how to act is based on the concept of definition of the situation. Definitions are all predetermined and people choose how they will act by choosing the proper behavior for the situation they are in. Goffman also draws from William Thomas for this concept. Thomas believed that people are born into a particular social class and that the definitions of the situations they will encounter have already been defined for them. For instance. when an individual from an upper-class background goes to a black-tie affair, the definition of the situation is that they must mind their manners and act according to their class.
In 2007 by The Times Higher Education Guide listed Goffman as the sixth most-cited author in the humanities and social sciences, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Habermas. His popularity with the general public has been attributed to his writing style, described as “sardonic, satiric, jokey”, and as “ironic and self-consciously literary”, and to its being more accessible than that of most academics. His style has also been influential in academia, and is credited with popularizing a less formal style in academic publications. Interestingly, if he is rightly so credited, he may by this means have contributed to a remodelling of the norms of academic behaviour, particularly of communicative action, arguably liberating intellectuals from social restraints unnatural to some of them.
Despite his influence, according to Fine and Manning there are “remarkably few scholars who are continuing his work”, nor has there been a “Goffman school”; thus his impact on social theory has been simultaneously “great and modest”. Fine and Manning attribute the lack of subsequent Goffman-style research and writing to the nature of his style, which they consider very difficult to duplicate (even “mimic-proof”), and also to his subjects’ not being widely valued in the social sciences. Of his style, Fine and Manning remark that he tends to be seen either as a scholar whose style is difficult to reproduce, and therefore daunting to those who might wish to emulate it, or as a scholar whose work was transitional, bridging the work of the Chicago school and that of contemporary sociologists, and thus of less interest to sociologists than the classics of either of those groups. Of his subjects, Fine and Manning observe that the topic of behavior in public places is often stigmatized as trivial and unworthy of serious scholarly attention.
Nonetheless, Fine and Manning note that Goffman is “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century”. Elliott and Turner see him as “a revered figure—an outlaw theorist who came to exemplify the best of the sociological imagination”, and “perhaps the first postmodern sociological theorist”.
Source: Looking back on Goffman: The excavation continues
The “descent of the ego,” then, was witnessed by both Durkheim and Goffman in terms of the mechanisms at work in modem Western society whereby the tendencies toward an unbridled egoistic individualism are continually rebuffed (Chriss, 1993). MacCannell successfully makes the case for such a Durkheim-Goffman link through a semiotic sociology which resists the temptation of explaining in solely positivistic terms why it is that in modem Western society, imbued as it is with a strong ethic of individualism, we nevertheless see persons orienting their actions toward a perceived moral universe and the accommodation of the other. Like Durkheim and many of the great students of society from Plato to Hobbes, from Kant to Parsons, Goffman was ultimately concerned with the question, how is social order possible (Berger, 1973: 356; Collins, 1980: 173)?
Burns recognizes the Durkheim-Goffman link as well, but carries the analysis even further by comparing and contrasting Durkheim’s notion of social order with Goffman’s interaction order. Durkheim’s sui generis reality was society; Goffman’s is the encounters between individuals, or the social act itself. The moral order which pervades society and sustains individual conduct constitutes a “social fact” in both Durkheim’s and Goffman’s eyes. But Burns (1992) notes also that for Durkheim this order was·seen as durable and all-sustaining, whereas for Goffman “it was fragile, impermanent, full of unexpected holes, and in constant need of repair” (p.26).
my Related Posts
Key Sources of Research
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Erving Goffman on Wikipedia
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Cognitive–Linguistic and Constructivist Mnemonic Triggers in Teaching Based on Jerome Bruner’s Thinking
- 1Department of Pedagogy, NLA University College, Bergen, Norway
- 2Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland
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By Jerome S. BRUNER
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Jerome Bruner Life as a Narrative
Polarising narrative and paradigmatic ways of knowing: exploring the spaces through narrative, stories and reflections of personal transition
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University of Southern California USA
Self-making and world-making
In Narrative and Identity
Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture
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By Kenneth Burke
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A RHETORIC OF MOTIVES
A Calculus of Negation in Communication
Cybernetics & Human Knowing 24, 3–4 (2017), 17–27
Posted: 23 Jan 2018
Date Written: September 1, 2017
Working the Form: George Spencer-Brown and the Mark of Distinction*
Shape of things to come: From the ‘laws of form’ to management in the post-growth economy
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Systems, Network, and Culture
Dirk Baecker Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Germany firstname.lastname@example.org
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Organisations as distinction generating and processing systems: Niklas Luhmann’s contribution to organisation studies
David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker
TRANSLATED BY John Bednarz, Jr., with Dirk Baecker FOREWORD BY Eva M. Knodt
STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
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and the Laws of Form 50th Anniversary Conference.
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On the outcome of the Habermas/Luhmann‐debate
Niklas Luhmann and Organization Studies
David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker
A Note on Max Weber’s Unfinished Theory of Economy and Society
Witten/Herdecke University, Germany email@example.com
The fractal geometry of Luhmann’s sociological theory or debugging systems theory
José Javier Blanco Rivero
CONICET/Centro de Historia Intelectual, National University of Quilmes, Roque Sáenz Peña 352, Bernal, Argentina
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A calculus of dynamic complexions of distinctions as an interplay of worlds and distinctions
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Rudolf Kaehr (1942-2016)
ART AS A SOCIAL SYSTEM
TRANSLATED BY EVA M. KNODT
Snakes all the Way Down: Varela’s Calculus for Self-Reference and the Praxis of Paradise
European Center for Sustainability Research, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany
Systems Research and Behavioral Science Syst. Res. (2011)
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Who Conceives of Society?
Ernst von Glasersfeld
University of Massachusetts firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Interactionist Foundations of Media Practice Theory
PETER LUNT University of Leicester, UK
International Journal of Communication 14(2020), 2946–2963
Drama as Life: The Significance of Goffman’s Changing Use of the Theatrical Metaphor
Sociological Theory Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 70-86 (17 pages)
Published By: American Sociological Association
RECONSTRUCTING THE SELF: A GOFFMANIAN PERSPECTIVE
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P. Baert. Published 2016
The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology
S. Susen. Published 2007
Language, self, and social order: A reformulation of Goffman and Sacks
A. RawlsPublished 1989SociologyHuman Studies
The Interaction Order: American Sociological Association, 1982 Presidential Address
Author(s): Erving Goffman
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Public and private faces in web spaces – How Goffman’s work can be used to think about purchasing medicine online.
Organizational Analysis: Goffman and Dramaturgy
Peter K. Manning
Edited by Paul Adler, Paul du Gay, Glenn Morgan, and Mike Reed
Print Publication Date: Oct 2014
Complete bibliography: Erving Goffman ́s writings
Chapter 1 THE PROGRAM OF INTERACTION RITUAL THEORY
A review of Jerome Bruner’s educational theory:
Its implications for studies in teaching and learning and active learning (secondary publication)
Faculty of Economics Nagoya Gakuin University
The Use of Stories in Moral Development: New Psychological Reasons for an Old Education Method
- July 1990
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Narrative Understanding and Understanding Narrative
Sarah E. Worth
Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive): Vol. 2 , Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.risd.edu/liberalarts_contempaesthetics/vol2/iss1/9