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I'm trying to say something to the effect of:

"While practitioners before the war were in an environment of ____, practitioners after the war were in an environment of accountability."

Meaning the previous era's practitioners weren't holding themselves to the results of their contributions.

Anyway, something other than "unaccountability" would be appreciated, of course.

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Why not unaccountability? Dictionaries do list it - see onelook.com/?w=unaccountability&ls=a –  Unreason Oct 3 '11 at 14:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Meaning the previous era's practitioners weren't holding themselves to the results of their contributions.

(emphasis mine)

Interesting word choice there. It makes me unsure what you mean.

If I don’t hold myself responsible for the consequences of my actions, I am irresponsible or undisciplined, possibly reckless. (These words imply a value judgment, though, so you wouldn’t use them in an academic or professional context without weighing them pretty carefully. But then, accountability is a loaded word too.)

If nobody else is holding me responsible, the environment is unregulated, ungoverned, unstructured, unmanaged, or lax; there is a Wild West atmosphere or perhaps lawlessness, indifference, or amorality; or to lapse completely into jargon, there is no social mechanism to keep me in line.

Social forces comes in a lot of shapes. Maybe it would be best to scrap that sentence and describe the change in question more precisely.

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You could say they were in a laissez faire environment. Or carefree, blamelessness.

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+1 for laissez faire –  Wudang Oct 3 '11 at 11:40
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I disagree w/ the connotations that laissez faire would bring. It's typically in relation to government restricting (or not restricting) private enterprise, not self-regulation. If you used that word, I (as the reader) would assume that the gov't would have put regulations in place after the war... Also, as one other note, (from wikipedia): "The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means "let do", but it broadly implies "let it be", or "leave it alone.""... All of these imply a subject of "You [let it be]", not "We [let it be]" –  Rikon Oct 3 '11 at 13:01
    
I guess laissez faire could be right, depending on what the practitioners were practicing, but yeah, without more information it seems like a bit of a shot in the dark. –  Jason Orendorff Oct 3 '11 at 18:00

I'd go with consequence-free or repercussionless. (Sticklers will say the last isn't a proper word, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it, personally.)

If you want to maintain the sentence structure, 'an environment free of consequences/repercussions' would do.

Another alternative would be using the phrase carte blanche.

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Alternatively, you could restructure the sentence to say something along the lines of "The antebellum environment of unaccountability came to an end, with practitioners being held newly responsible for their actions." –  onomatomaniak Oct 3 '11 at 10:19

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