Gaming and Casino Operations Management | Sociology

Document Type

Original Research Article


It is an all-too-common lament among sociologists that Erving Goffman, though his writings remain widely read and respected today, failed to spawn an ongoing and cohesive research tradition. His idiosyncratic methods of data collection, the uniqueness of his biographical trajectory, and even his prickly personality have all been invoked to explain the lack of a distinctly Goffmanian school of research (Gamson 1985; Scheff, Phillips, and Kincaid 2006; Smith 2006; Shalin 2014). It is also the case that micro-oriented sociologies, such as symbolic interactionism and especially ethnomethodology, have been pushed to the margins of sociology as a consequence of the ascendency of quantitative methods. This paper is, on one level, an argument for continuing to read Goffman as a seminal figure in the sociology of everyday life. But it is more than this. It is an argument that we should be ambitious about using Goffman to generate and develop theories about other levels of social reality, including the most macro of them all: the global level. I make this argument through recounting my own experience attempting to replicate Goffman’s famed ethnographic research as a casino dealer in Las Vegas.