Difference and the principle of “accountability”

West and Fenstermaker admit the principle of “accountability” a high priority. The principle of “accountability” shows how normative expectations and stereotypical beliefs dominate the interaction and thereby prevent interferences of social inequalities. They believe that the concept of “accountability” can help to answer some of the “Doing Difference” concept better.

How important of the principle of “accountability”?

In each society, there are specific normative notions about how a member of a particular ethnic, class or gender must behave appropriately. That is, alter takes ego as “typical” and activates corresponding categories. A typing takes place on both sides. In doing so, we take not only a self-categorization but also a self-categorization. The categorization by sex and ethnicity serves the organization of social interaction, since one can classify the other more easily and its reaction can already be assessed in advance better.

These categories are based on previous routine experiences learned and stored through social interactions. Each act is assessed according to the normative expectations of how to behave appropriately as a member of a particular ethnic group (see Müller 2003, p. 129). If, alternatively, someone fails to meet the normative expectations placed on his person, the interaction partner reacts in astonishment and is therefore disoriented by unexpected behavior. This shows how much we are guided by these unquestioned beliefs (Müller 2003, p. 128). In response to unexpected behavior, comments such as “Funny, you do not look black” (Omi and Winant 1994, p. The ethnomethodologists call “accountability” the permanent review and consequently the evaluation and description of our appearance and action, and thus of the “true” nature with regard to appropriateness and comprehensibility.

West and Fenstermaker refer to the concept of the “accountability” of Heritage, which dates from the year 1984. It states that “accountability” is “the possibility of describing and assessing the actions of people, their circumstances of action, and even the descriptions themselves in a logical manner, for example as” male “or” female “(see Heritage 1984, P. 136-137). This principle is reminiscent of the bucket principle at Erving Goffman, since also characteristics and stereotypes are assigned to one sex category. This means that people already choose their actions as they perceive or describe them in a particular situation. This is not to say that this is always a conscious process. The “doing” of sex, ethnicity and class requires a situational action. However, one must also take into account the normative expectations addressed to an owner of a particular ethnicity, class or gender. It is only in this context that the action of an individual appears intelligible.


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