Texts by Erving Goffman published between the 1950s and the 1980s convey spatial references that - although so far little noticed - have an interpretive character in the conceptual scheme developed by the author in order to understand the normative structure of face-to-face interactions which are not strictly conversational. By analyzing such references in the chronology of Goffman's work one can descry notions of social structure and of interaction which are essentially spatial. In the author's reflection these abstract spaces coexist with physical space, which on its turn is simultaneously conceived as a physical setting, as a physical conditioner of interactions, as a sign, and as an environment of signs. Thus, Goffman's work offers sociology an alternative interpretation of the role of physical space in social relations. This role should not be confounded with that of a social construct, of an ecological variable, or of a mediation of social practices. It is something different, that the end of the analysis reveals.
Erving Goffman (1922- 1982); Space in sociology; Sociology of space; Interaction