Sociology: Exploring a Shadow World

Man as a social being divides his allegiance among a wide assortment of groups. The state, of course, is one, the family another. In between, there wheels a boundless galaxy of personal commitments and involvements, from the church committee to the golf club, all of which make rival membership claims on the individual and also serve to define who, what and where he is.

None may be more important to life than the type of event that Sociologist Erving Goffman calls "gatherings." These human groupings are often so fleeting and informal as to be unrecognizable as...

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