One of the seminal sociologists of the twentieth century, Erving Goffman revolutionized our understanding of the microworld of emotions and relationships. We all live in this world every day of our lives, yet it is virtually invisible to us. Goffman's genius was to recognize and describe this world as no one had before.
The book synthesizes prior scholarly commentary on Goffman's work, and includes biographical material from his life, untangling some of the many puzzles in Goffman's work and life. Scheff also proposes ways of filling gaps and false starts. One chapter explores the meaning of the emotion of love, another of hatred. These and other new directions could facilitate the creation of a microsocial science that unveils the emotional/relational world.
"In his important new book, Thomas Scheff demonstrates why Goffman remains such a key figure for social scientists. Scheff provides a highly original interpretation of Goffman, and, in so doing, he goes beyond Goffman's self-imposed theoretical limitations. Goffman may have been cautious about recognizing the role of emotions in social life, but Scheff boldly and creatively shows why the sociological and the psychological are necessarily intertwined. This is certainly a book for all serious analysts of social behaviour"
—Michael Billig, professor in the Social Science Department at Nottingham University
“In this book Thomas Scheff argues that Goffman’s vision centres on his discovery of the emotional/relational world. He shows how Goffman brings to life the looking-glass self, which links intersubjectivity and feelings. Scheff develops his thesis through a series of engagements with key elements of Goffman.s oeuvre. Throughout, he makes effective use of his own research to demonstrate how Goffman takes us beyond vernacular understandings of these matters. Scheff’s critical eye is equal to his subject, shrewdly appreciating Goffman’s many virtues while also showing where and how Goffman’s thinking needs revision and development. This original and provocative book offers a fresh interpretation of Goffman and will become a benchmark for all subsequent commentary.”
—Greg Smith, University of Salford
“Thomas J. Scheff's Goffman Unbound is the key to decoding Goffman's plethora of brilliant but enigmatic concepts, tropes, and taxonomies. It provides a clear picture into the complex world of emotions and social interaction.”
—A. Javier Treviño, Wheaton College, editor of Goffman's Legacy
“In this astute and appreciative discussion of the work of Erving Goffman, Scheff adds a discussion of emotion. He focuses on how the emotions of grief, anger, fear and shame underlie hyper-masculinity—a topic missing from Goffman and very important to understanding current politics.”
—Arlie Hochschild, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Managed Heart and The Commercialization of Intimate Life
“No one is better qualified than Tom Scheff to bring out the significance of Goffman's work and to carry further his explorations of what Scheff calls the emotional-relational world. Especially illuminating is Scheff turning his techniques upon Goffman's own personality, and a host of applications including an alternative to biologically-dominated psychiatry , a theory of love, and a theory of hypermasculinity.”
—Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania
“This is an essential book for anyone interested in the influential microsociologist and interactionist Erving Goffman, by an author more than well qualified to write a definitive review…One of the book’s very strong features is that Scheff demonstrates how Goffman’s approach has topical relevance for research topics not commonly associated with him, e.g., hypermasculinity, collective hatred, and runaway nationalism. A must read for anyone with more than a passing interest in Goffman.”
----David Ashley, University of Wyoming in Choice
I. Introduction: The Life and Work of Genius
II. The Goffman Style: Deconstructing Society and Social Science
III. Looking-Glass Self: Goffman as Symbolic Interactionist
IV. Goffman’s World of Emotions
V. The Structure of Context: Deciphering Frame Analysis
VI. Building an Onion: Alternatives to Biopsychiatry
VII. What Is The Thing Called Love? The Three A’s: Attachment, Attunement, and Attraction
VIII. Hatred as Shame and Rage?
IX. Human Bonds: Love, Pride, and Shame
X. Masculinity and Emotions: The Silence/Violence Pattern
XI. A Theory of Runaway Nationalism