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ERIC Number: EJ1003609
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7732
Apology and Redress: Escaping the Dustbin of History in the Postsegregationist South
Fine, Gary Alan
Social Forces, v91 n4 p1319-1342 Jun 2013
How at moments of dramatic change and a shifting social context do political actors alter their public identities? Put differently, how do political figures respond when positions with which they have been closely identified are no longer morally and electorally defensible and must be altered? Responses to identity challenge within institutional spheres require an expansion of the theory of accounts to an approach that examines shifts in cultural fields. Those challenged must signal adherence to newly claimed values. The standard view of accounts examines interpersonal justifications outside of institutional pressures, downplaying social location. Extending a theory of accounts to political actors requires recognizing appeals to audiences and distribution of resources. In the political arena the presentation of accounts carries reputational dangers. Presenting excuses, politicians deny agency, placing themselves at jeopardy as incompetent. Justifications require a credulous audience that overlooks possible insincerity. As a result, other strategies are necessary. Political actors rely on apologies or redress to demonstrate a revised self to stakeholders, strategies based on "position", "resources" and "audience". To analyze the realignment of reputation in unsettled times, I examine the postsegregation careers of Governor George Wallace of Alabama and Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Both moved from being icons of segregation to (claimed) devotees of racial equality, but because of their political location they moved in different ways. Given their context, Wallace apologized, while Thurmond provided redress to offended communities.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Alabama; South Carolina