Re-Reading Erving Goffman as an Emancipatory Researcher

Thomas Abrams


Erving Goffman’s work is often employed within Disability Studies.  However, in Canada and the UK, most authors only discuss his Stigma (1963) or Asylums (1961), and his work is often dismissed as: a) individualistic; b) lacking a notion of social structure; and c) politically benign.  In this paper, I argue that a re-reading of Erving Goffman is in order.  In particular I examine his “Mental Symptoms and Public Order” (1967) and “The Insanity of Place” (1971).  I argue that Goffman’s dismissal is unfair: each of the three criticisms above are out of order.  I conclude with a discussion of what a fair-to-Goffman disability studies might look like.


Keywords: Erving Goffman, Emancipatory Research, Social Model of Disability


Erving Goffman; Emancipatory Research; Social Model of Disability

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Copyright (c) 2014 Thomas Abrams

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