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
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 4.0 license.
Published online: 06 December 2019
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