When I read the published interview, I was immediately struck by Goffman’s account of the Chicago Sociology Department as if it had been an all-male environment, and his all-male friendship circle. At the time of publication I made some notes for a commentary on the interview, but merely filed them. Then Gary Alan Fine (1995) published an edited collection, A Second Chicago School? focusing on Chicago Sociology in the years from 1946 to the early 1960s. This collection, covering the period when Goffman was in Chicago, and using him as an example of one of its stars, forced me to return to my notes on the Goffman interview. Fine himself, explaining his decision to write of a Second Chicago School, lists the stars produced there after 1946: ‘Howard Becker, Fred Davis, Eliot Freidson, Erving Goffman, Joseph Gusfield, Robert Habenstein, Lewis Killian, Helena Lopata, Hans Mauksch, Gregory Stone, Ralph Turner’ (1995: 1). The Fine volume revealed that Chicago’s Sociology Department in Goffman’s era was not an all-male place. There were women graduate students there, even though the faculty was all male. Fine’s collection includes Mary Jo Deegan’s (1995) thorough analysis of the graduate students at Chicago between 1945 and 1960, the era when Goffman and his generation were trained. Fine’s book also included an Appendix listing all the PhD degrees awarded at Chicago between 1945 and 1965. Many of the men
Goffman listed appear; Klapp, Meltzer and Shibutani in 1948, Becker in 1951, Freidson in 1952, Goffman himself in 1953, Gusfield in 1945, Davis in 1958, Stone in 1959. Goffman’s contemporaries included Virginia Olesen, Helen Hughes McGill, Helena Znaniecka Lopata, and Rue Bucher, but he does not mention any of them in the Verhoeven interview. Nor is he the only man for that period to have ‘overlooked’ his women contemporaries. The Preface to Fine by Gusfield (1995) is a memoir, which is very similar to Goffman’s. Gusfield lists Strauss, Becker, Blumer, Hughes, Wirth, Burgess, Goffman, Shibutani, Lloyd Warner and Freidson. The only women he mentions are his wife, and Helena Lopata, but neither is discussed as if they were part of the academic cohort. Like Goffman, Gusfield ignores Helen McGill, Virginia Olesen and Rue Bucher. Goffman and Gusfield are not alone. Fine collected over 30 self-reports from men who were contemporaries of Goffman’s. Deegan analysed them, and concludes that: ‘in these male accounts, there are almost no references to the 15% of their cohort who were women’ (1995: 325). Goffman’s account to Verhoeven fits this pattern exactly. Helena Lopata (1995b: 382), while rejecting much of Deegan’s argument, does accept that the women were retrospectively invisible to men: ‘While on campus, the women felt integrated… yet the men’s memory of the cohort is predominantly male.’
Inspired by the sharp contrast between Goffman’s interview, the ‘facts’ collected in the Appendix to Fine (1995), and by the emotions aroused by Deegan’s contribution to the volume, I set out on the analysis presented below.