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Accounts

Marvin B. Scott and Stanford M. Lyman
American Sociological Review
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1968), pp. 46-62
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092239
Page Count: 17
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Accounts
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Abstract

Although talk is the fundamental material of human relations, the sociology of talk remains undeveloped. This article presents an analysis of one kind of talk, the employment of accounts--statements made to explain untoward behavior and bridge the gap between actions and expectations. Accounts may be classified by content as excuses and justifications, each with its own subtypes. Excuses and justifications are socially approved vocabularies which neutralize an act or its consequences when one or both are called into question. The honoring of an account represents the restoration of equilibrium. There are also strategies for avoiding accounts. More broadly, accounts are manifestations of the underlying negotiation of identities within speech communities.

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