David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Sociological Theory 23 (4):368-385 (2005)
This article proposes that Goffman's "Frame Analysis" can be interpreted as a step toward unpacking the idea of context. His analysis implies a recursive model involving frames within frames. The key problem is that neither Goffman nor anyone else has clearly defined what is meant by a frame. I propose that it can be represented by a word, phrase, or proposition. A subjective context can be represented as an assembly of these items, joined together by operators such as and, since, if, not, and then. Furthermore, this model can be combined with the recursive levels of mutual awareness in earlier approaches to consensus. The combination would represent the inter subjective context: it can be used to find the minimum amount of background that would allow consensual interpretations of discourse. It could also construct a chain that links discourse to the institutional level, the micro-macro pathway from word and gesture to social structure. Goffman hinted that mathematical notation might be used to represent a frame assembly. By adding levels of awareness to such notation, it could represent social facts. Because the use of vernacular words rather than concepts is a problem in social science, Goffman's approach has a general as well as a particular significance
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