Title

Attributions and Avowals of Motive in the Study of Deviance: Resource or Topic?

Publication Title

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour

Publication Date

6-1998

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1111/1468-5914.00070

Keywords

attributions, avowals, motive, study of deviance

Disciplines

Other Sociology | Sociology

Abstract

In explaining human actions, scholars and laypeople alike employ explanatory devices such as ‘motives’. This paper critically reevaluates the relationship between ‘professional’ and ‘lay’ invocations of motive, proposing a general reorientation of theory and research. This reorientation emphasizes the mundane ‘practical grammar’ of motives, and argues that motive deployment is inextricably tied to deviance, and therefore irremediably moral. It is argued, therefore, that motives should serve as a topic for scholarship, not a resourcefor scholarly use. Several landmark theories of motives, deviance, and explanations are critically reviewed from the proposed vantage. Finally, a brief survey of similarly-minded work is offered, focussing on ethnomethodological arguments and findings, as illustrations of the heuristic power and promise of the outlined approach.

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