Most of the ideas and research discussed so far have dealt with what goes on between two people in intimate relationships and with the processes and regularities that intimate relationships follow. This section, rather than dealing with intimate relationships, deals with ordinary, everyday, casual relationships. And rather than being primarily concerned with what goes on within these relationships, this chapter is concerned with the rules of society that govern all relationships.
Erving Goffman is a sociologist, although it might be more accurate to describe him as a cultural anthropologist who has studied the American scene. He has studied what goes on between people in all sorts of ordinary situations, such as at parties, at meetings, and on the street. He has also studied the way people behave in “total institutions,” such as mental hospitals, prisons, and the armed forces. Rather than concerning himself with what goes on inside people to make them behave the way they do, he has looked at the other side of the coin to study the rules of society. He has concluded that these are rules we all obey-most of the time without even being aware of it and, for most of us, without even realizing that such rules exist.
These rules that we follow are not written in any law book or rule manual. Read more…