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Livelihoods of theory: The case of Goffman's early theory of the self
Theory & Psychology (2014)
  • Jill G. Morawski, Wesleyan University
Although theory rich, contemporary psychologists have no consensual understanding of what 
constitutes a theory or how theory should be used, revised, and appraised. Likewise neglected 
are ways that a theory is taken up in specific research domains and how a theory can change over 
time. In response to calls for renewing psychology’s appreciation of theory, this article introduces 
an understanding of theory as vivacious and biographically complex. A dynamic perspective affords 
means to explore how a theory travels, is taken up in different times and places, and changes. So 
appreciating theory’s liveliness reveals not only what premises of humans are valued at a given 
time or within a given research domain, but uncovers vestigial features that were abandoned but 
might be valuable to contemporary theory work. Theory’s livelihood and travel is illustrated here 
by Erving Goffman’s early work on the self and its uses by Henry Riecken, Robert Rosenthal, and 
E. E. Jones.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jill G. Morawski. "Livelihoods of theory: The case of Goffman's early theory of the self" Theory & Psychology Vol. 24 Iss. 3 (2014)
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