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Book: Discourse and Responsibility in Professional Settings

Chapter: Chapter 3: Owning responsible actions/selves: Role-relational trajectories in counselling for childhood genetic testing

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26838


The chapter offers a role-relational perspective on responsibility, as a complement to the agency-and-intentionality dimension usually associated with responsible action. A role-relational perspective foregrounds a dynamic notion of role vis-à-vis self-other relations in owning responsible actions/selves. The counselling context of childhood genetic testing is used as a way of illustrating the complex role-relational trajectories which underpin parental accounts of moral and causal responsibility. Drawing upon the distinction between ‘excuse’ and ‘justification’ in accounting for conduct, and by adopting a thematic discourse analytic framework, the study suggests that parental accounts orient towards the following: balancing of advantages and disadvantages of childhood testing; benefits of knowing for present and future purposes; and the role-relational work underpinning the decision about testing. Although articulation of moral and causal responsibility is nuanced in parental accounts, justifications for actions/decisions mainly take the form of causal responsibility, expressed typically in the ‘if-then’ format.

Chapter Contributors

  • Srikant Sarangi ( - srikantsarangi) 'Cardiff University'