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Sociology in the News

Thomas Hood, Dwight Van de Vate share ‘The Goffman Lectures’

Book explores how people present, construct, view themselves in everyday life

Professors Thomas Hood and Dwight Van de Vate extend the critical ideas shared within the walls of their classes to general readers with the release of “The Goffman Lectures” (published by Xlibris). This compendium consists of essays presented as lectures to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, expounding on sociologist Erving Goffman’s analysis of social life.

The book introduces Goffman’s work by placing his writing in the context of philosophers and sociologists who have written about human social behavior and particularly behavior in face-to-face conversation. Van de Vate and Hood felt that the work of Goffman deserved special attention due to the approach taken to the study of human behavior.

“We wanted readers to think about how Goffman’s perspectives and techniques might lead them to a fuller appreciation of patterns of social life. Writing down our own reactions and describing the context in which we interpreted the work for ourselves provided material for the readers.”

The book sheds light on how communication influences the way people think about themselves and others. Goffman’s work goes beyond analyzing the roles people play in the various settings of social behavior to understanding the way people can say one thing and yet mean something entirely different. Successful communication may come only through understandings achieved in advance. When communication fails, “was what I thought about myself or what I thought about others getting in the way?”

“The Goffman Lectures” is about expressing one’s ideas and emotions and how these are actually accomplished or failed to be accomplished by what an individual says and does. Through this book, the authors aim to “make the way in which daily conversations in face-to-face behavior clearer in both the interpretation and significance.”

“The Goffman Lectures”

By Thomas Hood; Dwight Van de Vate

Hardcover | 6 x 9in | 312 pages | ISBN 9781524572686

Softcover | 6 x 9in | 312 pages | ISBN 9781524572679

E-Book | 312 pages | ISBN 9781524572662

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


About the Authors


Thomas Hood, Ph.D., professor emeritus of sociology joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1965. Current research and writing interests include social suffering and collective distress, the social psychology of appearance and the attribution of character, the work of Erving Goffman, and environmental movements in America. His published research on the Billy Graham crusade in Knoxville and his works on the social psychology of experiments have been reprinted and widely cited.


Dwight Van de Vate Jr., Ph.D. (deceased), professor, a deeply respected member of the philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, taught there for over 30 years. His favorite technique was to ask a student to use a concept in a question. One of his writings, which reached book length, is “Romantic Love—A Philosophical Inquiry,” Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981.

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