Article published in:The Pragmatics of Ritual
Edited by Dániel Z. Kádár and Juliane House
[Pragmatics 30:1] 2020
► pp. 116–141
Urban interaction ritual
Strangership, civil inattention and everyday incivilities in public space
Most encounters between strangers in urban public spaces involve the ritual of civil inattention (Goffman 1963). Generalized diffusion of this ritual upholds the urban interaction order. This article outlines a typology of infractions of the ritual of civil inattention, and focuses on two types: uncivil attention and uncivil inattention. Drawing on interviews (n = 326) about participants’ most recent encounter with a rude stranger in urban public space gathered by the Researching Incivilities in Everyday Life (RIEL) Project, variations between verbally, physically, and gesturally initiated incivilities are examined. Data suggests a correlation between types of initiating move and subsequent verbal exchange. Analysis demonstrates the value of ritual framing for understanding interactional conflict between strangers, and indicates that the broader concept of incivility can supplement and extend existing impoliteness research by encompassing both linguistic and non-linguistic forms of interactional conflict.
Keywords: strangers, ritual, urban interaction order, everyday incivilities, initiating moves, public space, cultural sociology, civil inattention
- 2.Cities, strangers, and im/politeness
- 2.1The distinct realm of urban interaction
- 2.2The relative absence of copresent strangers from im/politeness research
- 2.3Stranger interactions beyond im/politeness research
- 3.Ritual dimensions of expressive social activity
- 3.1Civil inattention as urban interaction ritual
- 3.2Ritual at the intersection of im/politeness research and cultural sociology
- 4.Urban interaction ritual: A typology
Researching Incivilities in Everyday Life (RIEL) project data
- 5.1Data and methodology
- 5.2The civil/uncivil line: Interpreting interaction ritual breaches
- 6.Initiating moves in uncivil encounters
- 6.1From initiation to escalation
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 4.0 license.
Published online: 06 December 2019
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