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Social Accountability in Communication

Social Accountability in Communication

October 1993 | 196 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Winner of the Outstanding Scholarship Award from the Language & Social Interaction Division of the National Communication Association 2007!

Much of our talk revolves around accounting for our own and other people's actions. We praise one person and blame another, justify our own actions, speculate on motives, tell and retell problematic events. This volume draws upon speech communication, sociology and social psychology to offer an original approach to such accounts.

Richard Buttny examines social accountability within communication contexts that range from a therapy session to welfare and broadcast news interviews, from everyday conversation to discussions in a Zen monastery. Throughout his wide-ranging analysis of accounts talk, he integrates conversation analytic methods with social constructionism.

Marvin Scott
Introduction and Preview
Social Accountability and the Practical Necessity for Accounts

A Reading of the Accounts Literature
A Conversation Analytic Constructionist Perspective on Accounts
Accounts Analysis
Methods and Methodological Issues

Blame-Accounts Sequences in Couple Therapy
Accountability for Relational Problems

Discursive Affect in Situations of Social Accountability
with Thomas L Isbell
The Social Accountability of Zen Understanding
Teacher-Student Interviews in a North American Zen Monastery

Social Accountability Practices during a Welfare Interview
Diverging Accounts, Repeated Problems, and Ascriptions of Responsibility

Accounts and Accountability Practices in News Interviews
Social Accountability Practices in Contexts


`Accounts are a pervasive form of communication behavior, and, while they have not been ignored, accounts deserve more study than they have enjoyed thus far. Thus, Buttny's book comes as a welcome contribution to the literature... Together, the essays offer an important contribution to our understanding of accounts. Buttny provides a thoughtful review of the literature, articulates his philosophical and methodological choices, and offers several rich analyses of situated accounting practices. As such, this book enhances our appreciation for an important and pervasive form of communicative activity' - Communication Theory

`Includes some valuable insights about accounting practices and interpersonal communication... Most notably, the book represents an important initial effort to disrupt traditional and ossified variable analytic approaches to understanding communicative practices, including accounting practices. In this regard... Buttny has engendered a process of "baby-stepping" toward richer, more productive understandings of human communication and how to study it... by no means a trivial accomplishment' - Theory & Psychology

`Concepts like "accounts", "accounting practices" and "accountability" are among the most important in recent social science... the book contains many interesting observations and ideas' - Discourse & Society

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