Sociology, Department of


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Erving Goffman’s Frame Analysis is introduced (together with several of Goffman’s basic concepts, including “strips”, “frames”, “keys”, “fabrications”, etc.) and applied to “bomb talk” (i.e., the different ways in which westerners discuss and/or refer to the reality of nuclear weapons). This analysis confirms (as Goffman predicts) that the manner in which everyday life is conceptualized and subsequently transformed is extraordinarily flexible. Goffman offers a coherent knowledge-producing system, one that is best carefully studied before applying his precisely-defined concepts to other aspects of our social world. Frame Analysis provides the means for analyzing the organization of everyday life and answering many of the pressing questions we encounter therein, such as: “What is going on, right now?”, “When am I most vulnerable?”, “Can I know if someone is telling the truth?”. In answer, Goffman argues that we are fast asleep at precisely those moments when we think we are wide awake. Is this possible? The analysis of “bomb talk” demonstrates that we are so adept at “keying” the threat of nuclear weaponry that we appear unable to grapple effectively with its reality, i.e., that we are culturally asleep. Is this true of everything in our lives? This is for you to discover by conducting your own frame analyses of the phenomena that you consider most consequential and intriguing.