By Sam Harris
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Rogers goes on to characterize Gouldner’s critique of Goffman’s work as inappropriate and even careless (1980, 128). Touché! Goffman’s analysis of power, influence, and control was integral to his examination of the extent to which actors were alienated or solidary with each other. However, Marx went on from this balance point to develop and elaborate his analysis of power/authority, but left the complementary analysis of social integration behind. Rogers’s reply to Gouldner has hit upon one reason that Goffman irritates his commentators.
Although there may be individuals and even segments in a society that do not participate in a basic institution, the overwhelming majority does. Durkheim’s language, external and constraining, is too gentle to catch the violent passion behind our attachments to institutions. Considering the dominant reality as a system of interlocking social institutions may help flesh out the abstract idea. He makes the point that what is considered common sense in any particular society is culturally constructed, giving many examples showing how the common sense of one society contradicts that of another (Scheff 1990, 137–42).
But what was his mode of investigation? Goffman’s primary goal may have been the development of a reflexive social science. At decisive points the ordinary language and conventional understandings fail and must be transcended. . (Gouldner 1972, 16, quoted in Phillips 1988) Was Goffman attempting a reflexive sociology, one that would create a new culture for social science? any accurately improper move can poke through the thin sleeve of immediate reality. The idea of improper moves that are accurate is harder to pin down.
An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris