The Story of the Nearest Relative: Shifts in Footing in Dramaturgical Replayings
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This discussion assesses the utility of Goffman’s thinking about conversational interaction for illuminating features of a research interview between one of the two authors (LM) and a fellow social work professional. We use this case to explore aspects of Goffman’s contribution to the sociological understanding of spoken interaction. While many of his ideas offer rich sources of guidance for interactionist and qualitative researchers, the value of Goffman’s (1974) concept of “dramaturgical replaying” has been overlooked. We trace the leading themes of Goffman’s thinking about conversational interaction and show how they can provide an analysis of the story of the “Nearest Relative” that is attentive to its live, improvised enactment. Goffman’s approach to storytelling is shown to be distinct from but complementary to conversation analytic approaches to storytelling.