- The Application of Theory of Interaction to Library & Information Science: E. Goffman's Theory and its Implication for the Field
- No.29, p.21-37
“Interaction” is the word used for influences which each actor in an interpersonal situation has over one another. The library is the place where the interaction between the user and the librarian occurs. We call an interaction which occurs in a particular setting for a certain period an “interactional act”. The reference process is taken as one case. For this interactional act to be proceeded, it is necessary that “interactional order” be maintained. In other words, the actors posess a common “definition of the situation” and act properly according to the definition. E. Goffman’s “frame” is a conceptual schema for interpreting the structure of interactional order, and provides the actors with the definition of a situation.
By examining how the “interactional order of a situation” is organized, it is possible to observe how social constraints affect the individual actors in social settings. Therefore, according to Goffman, the introduction of the interactional point of view will provide a possibility of relating the two different levels of social reality at the interactional level: the personal level and the level of social structure. Then, the benifits to the Library and Information Science from the introduction of the interactional point of view will be not only the better understandings of the relationship between the user and the libratian in the library settings, but also the better understandings of how the users seek information with the social constraints of the setting.
Goffman presented great many insights on human interactions, and his work has been applied to the the field of Library and Information Science since the 1960s. However, the understanding of his theory in this field and the way of applying his theory has not been satisfactory.
This paper proposes the new direction of the application of Goffman’s theory by reviewing both his theory and its applications which already have been attempted in the field Library and Information Science. Firstly, it tries to reconstruct Goffman’s theory of interactional order by examining his concept of “frame”. Secondly, it examines the applications of Goffman’s theory to some areas of Library and Information Science by reviewing the contexts of the application. Lastly, the area of the reference process is taken as an example for applying his theory along the proposed direction.
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