Asylums is an analysis of life in "total institutions"—closed worlds like prisons, army camps, boarding schools, nursing homes and mental hospitals. It focuses on the relationship between the inmate and the institution, how the setting affects the person and how the person can deal with life on the inside.
Erving Goffman was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania until his death in 1982. He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost social theorists and much of his work still remains in print. Among his classic books are The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Interaction Ritual, Stigma, Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, and Frame Analysis.
William B. Helmreich is professor of sociology at CUNY Graduate Center and City College of New York and served as director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College. He is author of eleven books, including The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of American Orthodoxy and Against All Odds: Holocaust Survivors and the Successful Lives They Made in America, which won the 1993 National Jewish Book Award.