Human Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 397–415 | Cite as

Enacted Others: Specifying Goffman's Phenomenological Omissions and Sociological Accomplishments

  • Gregory W. H. SmithEmail author


Erving Goffman's distinctive contribution to an understanding of others was grounded in his information control and ritual models of the interaction process. This contribution centered on the forms of the interaction order rather than self-other relations as traditionally conceived in phenomenology. Goffman came to phenomenology as a sympathetic but critical outsider who sought resources for the sociological mining of the interaction order. His engagement with phenomenological thinkers (principally Gustav Ichheiser, Jean-Paul Sartre and Alfred Schutz) has to be understood in these terms. The article traces basic differences in analytical focus through a range of phenomenological critiques of Goffman and a comparison of salient aspects of Schutz's and Goffman's writings. While the contrasts have perhaps been overplayed, I conclude that Goffman's thinking about others probably owed more to his pragmatist roots than to his later encounters with phenomenology.


Erving Goffman Gustav Ichheiser interaction order George Herbert Mead other phenomenology Jean-Paul Sartre Alfred Schutz 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social, Cultural and Policy Research (ISCPR) and School of English, Sociology, Politics and Contemporary History (ESPaCH)University of SalfordSalfordUK

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