Erving Goffman: Sail training, symbolic interaction and 'total institutions'

Kenneth McCulloch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the work of the Canadian-born sociologist Erving Goffman (1922-82). It draws on examples from the world of sail training to explore the ways sociological approaches such as interactionism and, in particular, Goffman’s concept of the ‘total institution’ can help us to frame, interpret and analyse the situations in which adventure educators work. Goffman’s work does not fit easily into any of the usual schemes for categorizing different sociological approaches, and he is often regarded as something of a maverick – someone who pursued his own ideas and preoccupations without much regard to what else may have been happening in the academic community around him. He is said to have been somewhat reclusive – the opposite of the celebrity academic – but is nevertheless regarded as one of the key figures in twentieth-century sociology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOutdoor Adventure and Social Theory
EditorsElizabeth Pike, Simon Beames
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780203114773
ISBN (Print)9780415532679, 9780415532662
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2013


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