, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 390-399

Another View of Conventions

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Abstract

Conventions consist of conventionally accepted reasons for dereliction, deviation, distinction, or good fortune. Their use facilitates coordination of interpersonal effort through appeal to shared understandings that emerge from the push and pull of social interaction, but then constrain further rounds of that interaction. The use of conventions differs from three other well defined and widely used forms of reason giving: codes, technical accounts, and stories. All four do relational work, but conventions operate most easily and effectively when participants in social relations are simply confirming the character of those relations rather than establishing them anew, contesting them, terminating them, or transforming them. In those cases, participants are more likely to employ codes, technical accounts, or stories.

Note

This paper first appeared in Italian translation in a special issue of Sociologia del Lavoro in 2006. It is published here for the first time in its original English version.