Goffman takes what could have been a very dry subject, and infuses it with a humor that makes the book a pleasure to read (of course, he was tenured when he wrote it, so he could afford the sense of humor). The controlling idea of the book is that anytime human beings experience anything, we "frame" the experience in one of two categories of ways. The first category of frame is the natural frame, which is sort of "automatic." Those frames are not easily changed or shifted. The second category of frame is the social frame, which includes all kinds of subcategories. In short, social frames result from our past experiences, predispostions, etc. Much of the book is given to taxonimizing the different social frames. Other issues that arise are: How do we process experience when there are competing frames? Who gets to control the frame of experience, the speaker or the listener? Both? Neither? This book is full of heady philosphical musings, but within those parameters, it's remarkably reader-friendly.
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This book drove me crazy. It is a dry sociological look at how we "frame" situations we are in. It is repetitive and a kind of like a verbal calculus problem that never ends. I recommend a weekly therapy session while reading this book!!!