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.
KeywordsAccountability Doing gender Interaction Account
My thanks to Lauren Charles Stewart for her contributions to the early stages of this chapter.
- Accountable. (2017). Online etymology dictionary. Douglas Harper, historian. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/accountable. Accessed January 6, 2017.
- Antaki, C. (1994). Explaining and arguing: The social organization of accounts. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Enfield, N. J. (2016). Series editor’s preface. In J. D. Robinson (Ed.), Accountability in social interaction. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fenstermaker, S., & Budesa, J. (2015). Doing gender. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1961). Encounters. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
- Heritage, J. (1983). Accounts in action. In G. Nigel Gilbert & P. Abell (Eds.), Accounts and action (pp. 117–31). Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Gower.Google Scholar
- Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Hollander, J. A. (2013). ‘I demand more of people’: Accountability, interaction, and gender change. Gender & Society, 27, 5–29.Google Scholar
- Hollander, J. A., & S. Fenstermaker. (2018). Gender Theme and Variation: Gender Ideals and Gender Expectations in Interaction. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
- Jones, N. (2010). Between good and ghetto: African American girls and inner-city violence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Messerschmidt, J. (2004). Flesh and blood: Adolescent gender diversity and violence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Pascoe, C. J. (2007). Dude, you’re a fag: Masculinity and sexuality in high school. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Schwalbe, M., & Shay, H. (2014). Dramaturgy and dominance. In J. D. McLeod, E. J. Lawler, & M. Schwalbe (Eds.), Handbook of the social psychology of inequality (pp. 155–180). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
- Sullivan, L. E. (n.d.). Accountability. The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412972024.n17.
- Walzer, S. (1998). Thinking about the baby: Gender and transitions into parenthood. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Wilkins, A. C., Mollborn, S., & Bó, Boróka. (2014). Constructing difference. In J. D. McLeod, E. J. Lawler, & M. Schwalbe (Eds.), Handbook of the social psychology of inequality (pp. 125–154). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar