Remembering Erving Goffman

Donald Levine

January 29, 2014

I’d say that a number of eminent sociologists of the previous generation were Jews trying to flee their old identity and achieve higher status thereby.  Among many others, these included Edward Shils, David Riesman, and Robert Merton (who changed his name to accomplish that) – all 3 of them, incidentally, from Philadelphia.  That stands in interesting contrast with the founding generation of American sociologists, who were you know often sons of Protestant ministers.

Shils was his usual snooty self vis-a-vis Erving.  Once EG started to get famous, Shils would refer to him as a “little pup.”  And then at times he'd call him “the Simmel of the pickpockets.”

[Posted 01-29-14]


* The Erving Goffman Archives (EGA) is the web-based, open-source project that serves as a clearing house for those interested in the dramaturgical tradition in sociology and biographical methods of research.  The EGA is located in the Intercyberlibrary of the UNLV Center of Democratic Culture,   Postings on the website are divided into four partially overlapping sections: “Documents and Papers,” “Biographical Materials,” “Critical Assessments,” and “Comments and Dialogues.”  For inquiries regarding the EGA projects, please contact Dr. Dmitri Shalin,  When you cite the materials collected for the EGA, please use the following reference:  Bios Sociologicus: The Erving Goffman Archives, ed. by Dmitri N. Shalin (UNLV: CDC Publications, 2009).