9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN29 Social Theory

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Contemporary Social Theory: From Phenomenology to Systems Theory Building AA, AA.329

Is there a frame-analysis after Erving Goffman?

Since the first publication of E. Goffman's "Frame analysis" (and perhaps even earlier - since the first works of G. Bateson on the framing of animals' communication), the tension between the theoretical issues of frame-analysis and its practical usage in empirical research has not weakened. As a fundamental social theory, frame-analysis provides a specific optics for studying social reality from the perspective of everyday experience organization. If E. Durkheim left to contemporary sociology an injunction to explain "social by social", so E. Goffman showed the ways to interpret "social as everyday". And that was the possibility to understand macro-social and macro-political realities from the "patterned interpersonal interaction" perspective.
At the same time, with a frame-analysis being a social theory, there are no specific methods of empirical data gathering connected with it. Neither Goffman, nor Bateson did offer any successive methodological programme - where exactly and how the frames and framing devices of social / political interaction are to be found. In other words, frame-analysis theoretical solutions do not say directly how the empirical frame-analysis research should be methodologically organized. That is why the further development of Bateson's and Gofman's ideas led to the inescapable proliferation of both the very notion of "frame", and the extreme diversity of research instruments: ranging from "mental structures" analysis (E. Zerubavel) to "talk-in-interaction" patterns (H. Sacks), from "political narratives" (M. Rein and D. Schön) to "material setting" (B. Latour). Relatively, these instruments can be divided into two groups - those that look for frames in discourses and narratives (having a propensity for narrative and discourse-analysis methods), and the ones that keep the notion of frames as structures that can be found in interaction itself (through the methods of involved observation).
We suppose that the further development of frame-analysis as a theoretical and methodological whole demands systematizing and correlating all methodical means which are used in empirical frame-analytical researches. In our brief report we shall try to make such connection: between frame-analytical theory and research practice, epistemological imperatives and methodological techniques.