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Cooling the Mother Out: Revisiting and Revising Goffman's Account

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


This article revisits Erving Goffman's important yet neglected metaphor of “cooling the mark out.” Drawing on a study of mothers whose child has Down's syndrome, I explore the value of Goffman's work for capturing how mothers interpret their child's diagnosis as a loss and rectify this breach by constructing an acceptance of their new situation. The mothers' accounts highlight how Goffman's contentions can be enriched by acknowledging the gendered, temporal, and public character of a loss. This article, thus, can be read both as a celebration and critical revision of his theoretical contribution.