chapter  17
12 Pages

Accounts

The rationale of much of this chapter is located in the interpretive, ethnographic paradigm which strives to view situations through the eyes of participants, to catch their intentionality and their interpretations of frequently complex situations, their meaning systems and the dynamics of the interaction as it unfolds. This is akin to the notion of ‘thick description’ from Geertz (1973b). This chapter proceeds in several stages: first, we set out the characteristics of the ethogenic approach; second, we set out procedures in eliciting, analysing and authenticating accounts; third, we provide an introduction to handling qualitative accounts and their related fields of network analysis and discourse analysis; fourth, we provide an introduction to handling quantitative and qualitative accounts; finally, we review the strengths and weaknesses of ethogenic approaches. We recognize that the field of language and language use is vast, and to try to do justice to it here is the ‘optimism of ignorance’ (Edwards 1976). Rather, we attempt to indicate some important ways in which researchers can use accounts in collecting data for their research.