Explaining One's Self To Others: Reason-giving in A Social Context

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To date, the study of communicated explanations has been, at best, unsystematic. There has been little recognition that many, if not most, explanations are eventually delivered to a hearer or hearers. These potential audiences constrain the way the explanation is ultimately shaped. Similarly, researchers have devoted themselves to the study of "accounts," for the most part without an accompanying interest in the fundamental processes of event comprehension. This volume is devoted to bridging the gap between these two traditions.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The Nature of Social Explanations 1
1 Constructing Accounts: The Role of Explanatory Coherence 3
2 The Use of Prototypical Explanations in First- and Third-Person Accounts 21
3 The Study of Causal Explanation in Natural Language: Analyzing Reports of the Challenger Disaster in the New York Times 41
4 An Economy of Explanations 61
5 Lay Explanations 83
6 A Conversation Approach to Explanation, with Emphasis on Politeness and Accounting 105
7 Excuses in Everyday Interaction 131
Pt. II Explanations and Social Contexts 147
8 Legal Fictions: Telling Stories and Doing Justice 149
9 The Account Episode in Close Relationships 167
10 Explanation as Legitimation: Excuse-Making in Organizations 183
11 Alternative Knowledge Sources in Explanations of Racist Events 199
12 The Social-Interactive Aspects of Account-Giving 225
13 Storytelling as Collaborative Reasoning: Co-Narratives in Incest Case Accounts 245
14 What Went Wrong: Communicating Accounts of Relationship Conflict 261
15 Accounting for Failure to Follow Advice: Real Reasons Versus Good Explanations 281
Author Index 295
Subject Index 305
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