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Explaining and Arguing

Explaining and Arguing
The Social Organization of Accounts

August 1994 | 222 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Explanations identify causes, back up claims and justify actions. Social scientists study them because they reveal how people understand and construct their worlds. This stimulating book offers a critical review of the major approaches to the study of everyday explaining and arguing.

Using concrete examples to illuminate the range of contemporary approaches, Antaki's concern is to test theory against practice. He draws a picture of explanation as a richly social achievement of speaker and audience, involving a balance between delicate manoeuvre and the exercise of discursive power.

Attributing Cause
Causal Talk
Explanations in Exoneration
Explanation Slots
Storied Accounts
Explanatory Discourse
Making Claims in Logic and Rhetoric
Backing Claims in Quarrels
Explaining and Arguing in Participants' Own Words


`This is a remarkable book... it covers an awesome amount of ground. It tells us in some detail what cognitivists, social constructionists, discourse analysts, argumentation theorists, conversation analysts and others have to contribute to our understanding of explanation, reasoning, argument, excuses and justification... It is remarkable also for the clarity of its exposition, which is such as to command this reader's unqualified admiration and gratitude. The style is disarmingly unpretentious, even playful. The author demonstrates once and for all that it is possible to write about ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and the rest without resorting to opaque and tortured prose, thus performing a feat many of us had dispairingly come to accept as all but unachieveable' - Theory & Psychology

`Antaki's contribution is the enabling of clear distinctions between different methods often used eclectically by those calling their work discourse analysis, such as conversation analysis and rhetorical approaches' - The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

`Antaki presents a cogent account of the process of explaining in social discourse. He takes a systematic approach to the subject and the chapter dealing with attributions is particularly well done... Antaki draws connections between understanding the complexities of explaining and arguing and areas of interest in social psychology in general and social cognition specifically. Another strength of the work lies in the author's incorporation of issues of culture in the explanatory process. Researchers working in the area of impression formation and recovery from biased impressions will be especially likely to benefit from the insights provided in this work... Antaki's review of the literature is both appropriate and impressive' - Choice

`The most comprehensive work to date on explanations and accounts. Antaki is one of the few thinkers conversant both with the new qualitative paradigms in the social sciences - conversation analysis, discourse analysis, rhetorical approaches - and with the mainstream social psychological approach of attribution theory. Lucid and never ponderous, the book gives a much needed shape and coherence to this cross-disciplinary area' - Richard Buttny, Syracuse University, New York

`Excellent... an engagingly written and well- researched critical overview of the literature on everyday explanations, combined with a clear theoretical position. A beautifully crafted piece of work' - Derek Edwards, Loughborough University

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ISBN: 9780803986060
ISBN: 9780803986053