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illocutionary actany social act which is accomplished by virtue of an utterance (e.g. promising, cursing). Associated especially with the philosophers J. Austin and J. Searle, the analysis of such illocutionary acts (and perlocutionary acts - the effects of an illocutionary act), is a central part of the subject matter of ORDINARY LANGUAGE PHILOSOPHY.
The analytical study of speech acts has affinities with a number of approaches in sociology, including the FORMAL SOCIOLOGY of SIMMEL, the work of GOFFMAN, and CONVERSATION ANALYSIS. The latter in particular is directly influenced by ordinary language philosophy (see also DEGRADATION CEREMONY). A further example of an approach influenced by the concept of speech act is the ‘ethogenic’ social psychology of Rom Harré (Social Being, 1979), which advances the idea of a possible ‘grammar’ of social encounters, one however, that would be far more complex than implied in philosophical conceptions of speech acts.