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Why? is a book about the explanations we give and how we give them—a fascinating look at the way the reasons we offer every day are dictated by, and help constitute, social relationships. Written in an easy-to-read style by distinguished social historian Charles Tilly, the book explores the manner in which people claim, establish, negotiate, repair, rework, or terminate relations with others through the reasons they give.
Tilly examines a number of different types of reason giving. For example, he shows how an air traffic controller would explain the near miss of two aircraft in several different ways, depending upon the intended audience: for an acquaintance at a cocktail party, he might shrug it off by saying “This happens all the time.” or offer a chatty, colloquial rendition of what transpired; for a colleague at work, he would venture a longer, more technical explanation; and for a formal report for his division head he would provide an exhaustive, detailed account.
Publisher: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS