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Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience Paperback – May 30, 1986

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Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience + The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life + Interaction Ritual - Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern (May 30, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093035091X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930350918
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Frame Analysis is a rich, full, exceedingly complex book based on familiar data: clippings, cartoons, novels, vignettes from the cinema and legitimate stage. The argument rests on distinctions, on the one hand, between what is taken to be real from the perspective of the observer in any situation and actual occurrence and, on the other, between fabrication, internal and sometimes collusive misinterpretation of a situation by one person for another, and simple errors in framing and self-induced alterations.”—American Journal of Sociology

More About the Author

Erving Goffman was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania until his death in 1982. He is recognized as one of the world's foremost social theorists and much of his work still remains in print. Among his classic books are The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life; Interaction Ritual; Stigma; Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity; and Frame Analysis. William B. Helmreich is a professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and City College. He has written Against All Odds, The Enduring Community, Saving Children, and The Things They Say Behind Your Back all available from Transaction.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 91 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Goffman takes what could have been a very dry subject, and infuses it with a humor that makes the book a pleasure to read (of course, he was tenured when he wrote it, so he could afford the sense of humor). The controlling idea of the book is that anytime human beings experience anything, we "frame" the experience in one of two categories of ways. The first category of frame is the natural frame, which is sort of "automatic." Those frames are not easily changed or shifted. The second category of frame is the social frame, which includes all kinds of subcategories. In short, social frames result from our past experiences, predispostions, etc. Much of the book is given to taxonimizing the different social frames. Other issues that arise are: How do we process experience when there are competing frames? Who gets to control the frame of experience, the speaker or the listener? Both? Neither? This book is full of heady philosphical musings, but within those parameters, it's remarkably reader-friendly.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By CS on July 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Frame Analysis is Erving Goffman's major contribution to social theory, the crux of which concerns teasing out the relation(s) between social life and meaning through an empirical examination of the existent structure of experience in everyday life. Those seeking to discover the ways in which these structures were/are created will not find suitable answers to their queries, as Goffman makes no stated (or otherwise), attempt to address these issues here (note: for a more concrete analysis of such matters, I would suggest anything by the masterful Michel Foucault). The central thesis of Frame Analysis concerns `the definition of the situation' initially developed by W.I. Thomas; whose famous dictum, "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences," has become a theoretical stable of the symbolic interactionists perspective. Goffman argues that those who reside within the `definition of the situation' more than likely did not create the `definition,' thus posits Goffman, warrants further inquiry into the matter.

Frame Analysis is very long, dense and at times a rather trying and difficult read. Goffman employs a plethora of concepts couched within a multitude of frames from which the reader or `student' can view the ever complex and complicated social world. The most distinctive concepts (and important in terms of this text) however include the `frame,' `primary framework,' `keying,' and `fabrications.' Goffman defines a `frame' as, a collectivity of `definitions of situations' that together govern social events and our subjective involvement in them. A `primary framework' then provides meaning to events that would otherwise be meaningless and consists of two classes, "natural and social." The "natural" class concerns frames that are "purely physical" (e.g.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Idiosyncrat on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Goffman's book is primarily about how people understand the situations they find themselves; in his own words, the ways people face the question "What is it that is is going on here now?" Roughly, answering questions like this is what he calls "framing", and the answers "frames".

The way this topic is developed, however, is by an amazingly detailed discussion of example of incidents where people dramatically misunderstand the situations they find themselves in, either by mistake, or because they are induced into doing it by others who set out to con or fool them. One of the most fun things about this book is the sources of the examples. The most memorable are news clippings apt to be filed under "Odd News", with tales about con men, college activists, the royal family and such, which were obviously thrown into the paper for comic relief, and make the book enormous fun to grab and skim through just for the stories. Goffman's introduction goes as far to label his selection methodology, literally, as a mockery of representative sampling.

But there's a method here. The stories were newsworthy precisely because they were extraordinary ocurrences; and Goffman's approach is to iluminate normality by examining situations that depart dramatically from it. He develops a series of very technical concepts to analyse at great depth what's going on in these situations, the central ones being "frame", "keying", "fabrication". He applies these concepts to drama, conversation and deception, among other things.

The funniest thing about this book, however, is the contrast between Goffman's serious, academic tone and the silliness of a lot of the material he's covering. A contrast which one can tell he played up.
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