Theorizing the Deep Parallel between Goffman and Freud: Goffman's Interaction Order as a Social-structural Underpinning of Psychoanalytic Concepts of the Self


  • Black Hawk Hancock DePaul University
  • Roberta Garner DePaul University



Ego-Ideal, Freud, Goffman, Havoc, Hyper-Ritualization, Interaction Order, Neurosis, Psychoanalysis, Self, Super Ego.


A dialectical reading of Goffman and Freud connects the Interaction Order to the psychoanalytic conception of the self and thereby open up new possibilities of interpretation and transformation. Goffman’s concept of the Interaction Order enables us to understand more clearly the Freudian concepts of superego, ego-ideal, and the introjected Father. Next, we draw out the dramaturgical approach of both Goffman and Freud in terms of performing self and performing illness and discuss how the psychoanalytic reading of Goffman’s work sheds light on the formation of neuroses and the neurotic symptoms which Freud characterized as a type of performance. Here we link Freud’s “symptoms” to Goffman’s modes of disordered or flawed modes of interaction, specifically hysteria connected to havoc and obsessive compulsive disorder connected to hyperritualization. This dialectical reading allows us to rethink notions of sociality and thereby opens new possibilities for constituting the relation between the self and the social.

Author Biographies

Black Hawk Hancock, DePaul University

Associate Professor of Sociology

Roberta Garner, DePaul University

Professor of Sociology