Erving Goffman was a sociologist and novelist born on June 11, 1922 in Alberta, Canada. As a child, he never had an interest in science, but rather wanted to pursue a career in the arts. After graduating from St. John’s Technical High School, he attended the University of Manitoba to study chemistry. However, his studies were cut short when he took a job working for the National Film Board of Canada. It was only when he encountered sociologist Dennis Wrong that Goffman decided to go back to school and earn a degree. He eventually received a bachelor's in sociology and anthropology from the University of Toronto.
In 1956, Goffman published a book titled The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life which compared theatrical performance to humans’ daily interactions. Whenever an individual engages in a conversation, that person is attempting to appear interesting and sustain the attention of the listener. The way in which people communicate with one another is similar to the techniques actors utilize to give an enthralling performance for an audience. It is this concept that Goffman fully explores in his debut book.
Upon its publication, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life received rave reviews from critics and audiences for its unique perspective on human interaction. Several years later in 1998, it was also ranked the tenth most significant sociological book of the 20th century by the International Sociological Association.
Throughout his career, Erving Goffman authored numerous psychology books, including Asylums, Behavior in Public Places, and Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. On November 19, 1982, at age 60, his life was unfortunately cut short by stomach cancer.