Habermas, was one of the very few non Jewish members of the Frankfurt School of social thinkers. (Marxists). Giddens studied at the socialist founded London School of Economics. As for Goffman himself? This is his background:
Goffman was born 11 June 1922, in Mannville, Alberta, Canada, to Max Goffman and Anne Goffman, née Averbach. He was from a family of Ukrainian Jews who had emigrated to Canada at the turn of the century.
I find it ironic, in the context of this blog entry, where I am asserting that Goffman was misguided, and wrong in this theories, that he : Later he developed an interest in sociology. Also during this time, he met the renowned North American sociologist, Dennis Wrong. Their meeting motivated Goffman to leave the University of Manitoba and enroll at the University of Toronto, where he studied under C. W. M. Hart and Ray Birdwhistell, graduating in 1945 with a BA in sociology and anthropology.
The name of his inspiration Dennis WRONG could not be a better description of how 'right' this article is about Goffman's theories.
IS IT WRONG TO STIGMATIZE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT?
Yes, and no. Goffman seems to have had homosexuals and other sexual deviants in mind when he undermined and attacked the idea of stigmatizing certain people based on their difference. Where he missed the boat, and especially those who blindly followed this blind guide is.....that he seems to have lumped ALL kinds of difference into the mix and declared it 'bad' to stigmatize someone who is mentally ill, or physically handicapped and also bad to stigmatize someone with certain 'moral' differences such as homosexual desires, and by extension, adults who have a sexual attraction to children, or who delight in sexual activities with animals. In making this very shaky case, Goffman does the very thing he seems to abhor, he stigmatizes those who share revulsion and rejection of 'moral' difference based on sound scientifically based evolutionary biology, (among other reasons) and he sees such 'differences' as simply that.. something 'different', rather than extending a moral judgement on things which clearly need it.
To any reasonable person, it would be grossly wrong to stigmatize and shun people who, through no fault of their own, have something wrong with their body, such as a physical disability or who happen to have been raised on the poor side of the tracks. It is an entirely different case when we enter into the arena of moral thought and action. In saying this, we must distinguish between 'thought' and 'action'.
If a mature man has a sexual attraction to pre pubescent children, but recognizes that this is not acceptable, and is even morally wrong, and disciplines himself so as to never carry out such inclinations, there is no reason to shun such a person, because there is no evidence of his 'thoughts' becoming 'actions'.
It goes without saying that such a person would never publicly declare or confess his feelings, so they won't be known. It would be a different case if he proclaimed his inner thoughts widely, discussed them with family and friends and sought to be accepted without changing his thinking! In such a case, I suspect he would be stigmatized immediately and without reservation. When the thought, or mental processes step over the boundary from 'thought' to action? Ahh...then they must be stigmatized, shunned and jailed. Not for their private thoughts, but for their public actions. The current consensus in psychology would claim that such a person can be mentally rehabilitated by various cognitive repair therapies. But this is a crucial point. IF.... a person with attraction to under-age children can be 'fixed' by cognitive therapy, why not a person who's inclinations are for the same sex at any age?
IF... a person with adult child sexual attraction can NOT be 'fixed' by cognitive therapy, it is suggestive that his condition is pre-determined from birth... correct? In which case, it is a "sexual orientation" and must come under the protective net of anti discrimination and human rights law!
The homosexual community and political and social liberals, usually called 'progressives' would recoil at the reasoning here, but not for reasons of logic, it would be on the grounds of preferred 'political' truth, rather than real world reason and actual truth. Such an idea, adult/child sexual attraction being an 'orientation', is confronting for their long developed social world view, because it undermines their claims. This does not mean that there will never be 'progress' in this area, as this Guardian article illustrates where some psychologists are making this very claim, even though at this point, like the early gay rights pundits, they are voices in the academic and sociology wilderness.
So this whole scenario suggests we need a jolt of divine truth, for some they need a re-charge and others need a shock...with the disconnect of the academic and autonomous post enlightenment mind, from the 'Church' as a determinant of moral direction, we now find ten different sociologists offering 11 different viewpoints, and many of those viewpoints seem to emerge from the personal predilections of that scholar him or herself! (One being Wilhelm Reich being a major influence in the 50s... "The Sexual Revolution")
So, if sociology was cooking, the general public never knows whether the meal is just bad food or good burley. The condition of the popular mind, is determined by opinion leaders and politically stupid, sexually deviant 'Hollywood Celebrities' seem to have more influence that sound moral reasoning.
While the pre enlightenment 'Church' had wandered far from the grace and love of God and had become coldly authoritarian in issues of self serving doctrine deteriorating into a dry barren spiritual desert, the same scriptures are available to us today, as a refreshing oasis of truth and guidance. We can learn from history and refrain from trying to establish huge mega bureaucracies, placing the emphasis on renewed individuals who will become the new 'norm' for a renewed and restored nation.
We have a desperate crying need to restore appropriate shunning and stigma. Not for biological conditions or thoughts so much, but for actions where those actions, (which include the promotion of shameful conduct) have a negative effect on social and spiritual harmony.
Let their be no confusion, no ambiguity, nor doubt... new people do not simply 'happen'... as Jesus once said.. "Unless you are born again, you will not see the kingdom of heaven". Newness of life comes through a mental transformation that results from an inner commitment and replacing self with Christ. "Under new management" you might say.