(1922 - 1982) was a Canadian sociologist
involved in a school of sociological research which came to be known as ethnomethodology
, although he is probably more accurately defined as a symbolic interactionist
. This form of research owes something to B.F. Skinner
's behavioural studies of the 1920s and 30s, although it is considerably less reliant upon empiricist measurement and is proportionately more dependant upon observation.
He is best known for a semi-vox-pop take upon performance-oriented social representation: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. This work assesses, in a modular fashion, the components of mundane social interaction and draws a clear delineation between two distinct forms of social behaviour which Goffman characterises as on-stage behaviour and its obverse, off-stage behaviour. While this is fascinating stuff, it should be noted that there are a number of obvious incompletenesses and other apparent deficiencies within the work, most notably those which detail the depiction of e.g. ritual and also the behaviours of marginalised individuals.
In Stigma: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity , Goffman deals with marginalised behaviours across a range of groups operating on the periphery of social norms. Goffman's take was very radical for its time (1963) in that his definition of stigma as being a "significantly discrediting" attribute possessed by a person with an "undesired difference" directly leads to the indication that stigma is a socially constructed mechanism. This work builds on his earlier work in Asylum (1961) which deals extensively with the process of institutionalised socialisation.