Interactional Accountability

  • Jocelyn A. HollanderEmail author
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Interactional accountability, a concept derived from ethnomethodology, is the foundation of the doing gender perspective. Although often overlooked or misunderstood, it provides the motivation for doing gender, a mechanism for social control, and the link between interaction and social structure. This chapter provides an overview of how accountability has been used in sociology and in scholarship on gender. Accountability involves ongoing orientation to the expectations associated with sex category membership, assessment of behavior, (i.e., the production of accounts that compare behavior to expectations), and enforcement or the interactional consequences of the match between expectations and behavior. Schwalbe’s notion of “nets of accountability” further extends the concept of accountability, illuminating how the embeddedness of interaction in social networks functions to reproduce inequality across time and social context. Although resistance to expectations is always possible, the individual consequences may be substantial. Nonetheless, resistance does occur, and points the way to how gender can change. Further development of work on accountability requires attention to the ongoing, back-and-forth nature of interactional processes.


Accountability Doing gender Interaction Account 



My thanks to Lauren Charles Stewart for her contributions to the early stages of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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