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Accounts, Deviant

Michael L. Benson

Subject Sociology » Social Psychology
Deviance and Social Control » Sociology of Deviance

Key-Topics self

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


An account is a statement made by someone to explain unexpected or untoward behavior (Scott & Lyman 1968). For example, Scully and Marolla (1984) interviewed convicted rapists and found that they had a variety of explanations for their behavior. Some men blamed the victim by stating that she had seduced them. Others denied that the woman had not consented. They claimed that she really did want to have sex. Still others contended that the whole episode had been blown out of proportion and was not really very serious. All of these explanations are designed to put the offender in a less unfavorable light, which is the major purpose that accounts are intended to serve. Although accounts are usually developed in reference to a person's own behavior, the behavior in question can be someone else's. Accounts are a universal feature of ordinary interaction, used by most people on a regular basis. Deviant accounts are those developed specifically to account for acts that are widely regarded as deviant and unacceptable to members of a particular social and cultural setting as opposed to acts that are simply unusual or unexpected. Deviant accounts often apply to specific instances of behavior, such as in the example of the rapists given above. However, they also can apply to broader aspects of a person's life, indeed to an entire lifestyle or to a physical characteristic, such as obesity, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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