Monday, 20 April 2009

Goffman and social networking

Whilst at AERA, I heard that the proposal for the BERA symposium on 'Literacy in Virtual Worlds' we submitted back in January has been accepted, which is great. My paper is titled 'Countering chaos in Club Penguin: Young children’s use of literacy practices in the establishment of a virtual ‘interaction order’' which, as the title suggests, draws on Goffman's work. I first became interested in Goffman when a PhD student I supervised, Rosemary Anderson, drew on his theories to explore how children with reading difficulties managed their identities in the classroom and so I began to read his work in more depth. The more I read of it, the more I felt it helped me to understand young children's enagagement in digital literacies a little more. Of course I am not alone here - a growing number of people are interested in Goffman's ideas in relation to social networking - see here, for example. I know that some feel his ideas are perhaps not fluid enough to manage poststructuralist conceptions of identity - Guy, for example, has said he prefers the work of Holstein and Gubrium in this respect - but I feel that it is possible to read Goffman through a postructuralist lens. In the meantime, I recommend Rosemary's UKLA minibook based on her work - no Goffman in there, but plenty of good strategies for teachers!

9 comments:

Scott said...

Jackie, I agree about the possibility of reading Goffman's work more generatively than his structuralist roots might at first suggest. I've found his concept of underlife particularly useful for understanding young people's digital literacies in school environments. It's interesting but some people have the same problem with Bourdieu (ie that he's too much of a structuralist) whereas I find him quite flexible and open to possibility when he's read in a generous way.

Jackie Marsh said...

Hi Scott, yes, I really like your use of underlife and have referred to it in a review chapter I wrote for this handbook - http://tinyurl.com/cbdjze I will email you a copy of the chapter when I get chance. I am less flexible in my use of Bourdieu only because in my reading of him, he is not greatly flexible. He does give some room for seeing habitus as generative but not as much room as sometimes has been assumed, it seems to me. However I haven't read everything written by him so of course there may be greater scope for flexibility than I think!

guy said...

Having recently read Goffman's presidential address, I'm softening a bit. That's such an intelligent and wide-reaching piece. It leaves the Presentation of Self standing. Still think H&G are more subtle, though!

Jackie Marsh said...

Yes that piece is great. Must read H&G if I ever get the time!

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