LEARNING FROM GOFFMAN: Toward a concept-driven transcontextual sociology

Eviatar Zerubavel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter analyses how I learned from Erving Goffman, with whom I studied in the 1970s, to ‘look’ at the world in a distinctly ‘Goffmanesque’ manner, focusing in particular on his concept-driven (rather than either theory-driven or data-driven) style of research, using examples as his main source of data. Of particular importance in this regard was Goffman’s ‘analogical imagination’, which called for conducting pronouncedly transcontextual (transcultural, transhistorical, as well as transdomain) research as a way to identify generic social patterns and reveal deep formal ‘parallels’ (‘Simmelarities’) beneath the surface of substantive variability. Equally significant was his insistence on directing his sociological gaze to the familiar (‘everyday’) rather than the exotic, while paying little attention to the trendy academic ‘conversation’ around him.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Goffman Studies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000604412
ISBN (Print)9780367750718
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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