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Everyday incivility: towards a benchmark


Phillips, T and Smith, P, Everyday incivility: towards a benchmark, The Sociological Review, 51, (1) pp. 85-108. ISSN 0038-0261 (2003) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1467-954X.2003.tb02820.x


Commonplace incivility is a topic of longstanding interest within social theory, perhaps best exemplified by Goffman's studies of the interaction order. Nevertheless we know very little about its distribution and expression in everyday life. Current empirical work is dominated by criminological agendas. These tend to focus on more serious and illegal activities rather than minor deviant acts that are simply inconsiderate or rude. The paper reports findings from a focus group study conducted in Melbourne, Australia that set out to benchmark everyday incivilities. The results suggest that perpetrators of incivility have a surprisingly broad social distribution as does the range of locales that might be characterised as 'high risk'. Turning to the work of Putnam and Wolfe, we call for a research focus on low-level incivilities as key symptoms of the state of civic virtue and the strength of moral ties within civil society. Drawing on Virilio, Bauman and Durkheim, it is suggested that the experience of incivility is underpinned by the growth of freedom and movement in contemporary urban settings, and has ambivalent implications that not only invoke boundary maintenance and retreatism, but also offer the possibility for boundary expansion and tolerance of difference.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:incivility, social theory, interpersonal conduct
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Pacific Peoples community services
Objective Field:Pacific Peoples community services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Phillips, T (Dr Timothy Phillips)
ID Code:26658
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:46
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2003-08-01
Last Modified:2012-10-10

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