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Document Type

Original Research Article

Abstract

This paper explores Erving Goffman’s research on gambling, the historical context within which he articulated his views on risk taking, and the contribution he made to our understanding of gambling as a stigmatized social activity. Drawing on the large database assembled in the Erving Goffman Archives, the article traces Goffman’s footprint in Las Vegas and shows the personal as well as scholarly dimensions of his interest in betting practices in entertainment venues and risk taking in society at large. The argument is made that the theory of fateful action presented in the seminal study “Where the Action Is” remains a potent if underutilized theoretical, methodological, and political resource. The paper concludes with reflections on the commodification of risk and the role of chance in distribution of rewards in our society.


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