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Goffman, Growing Up, and Experienced Relationality

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


This article adopts a Goffmanian framework to grapple with the emotional‐relational experiences associated with teenagers growing up. Drawing upon focus group interviews with 14–15 year olds in East and West Belfast, the lack of full personhood attributed to nonadults is discussed in relation to spatial exclusion and stigmatizing service transactions, along with some emotional consequences. However, instances where teenagers embrace as well as reject this ostensibly negative social positioning are also elaborated. The overall thrust of the article seeks to demonstrate how the hierarchical adult‐child complex is built and maintained through everyday face‐to‐face interaction and the ritualistic expression of standards of worth assigned to participants.