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Book description

Has anyone ever pushed in front of you in a queue? Stolen your parking space? Talked on their mobile phone during a film at the cinema? In our everyday lives we all encounter rude and inconsiderate people. This unique book provides the first ever systematic investigation of typical encounters with rudeness. Through a meticulous analysis of over 500 events, it maps out what people experience as rude, where and when this happens and what takes place in the exchange between the participants. The inquiry further charts the emotional and social consequences of rudeness and victimization, with the results challenging the widespread assumption that bad behaviour is toxic to community life. In conclusion the study draws upon its findings and surveys a range of strategies for reducing the level of incivility in everyday life, identifying some simple and innovative solutions. Incivility will appeal to criminologists, sociologists and scholars of urban studies.


‘How much of a menace are rude people in public places? For the first time, this book gives us the data to find out. The biggest problem is not when nice middle class people venture into bad neighbourhoods. Rudeness happens mainly in ordinary crowds where the foot traffic is heaviest, and it is middle class men pushing obliviously through that are the main culprits. Smith, Phillips and King explain what kinds of situations cause what kinds of rudeness and what victims do about it. The authors do for pedestrians what Jack Katz did for road rage in his famous ‘Pissed Off in LA.' This book pushes in alongside Goffman's Relations in Public as a classic of interactional sociology.'

Randall Collins - University of Pennsylvania, and author of Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory

‘An innovative sociological study of an issue that today generates much anxious chatter but little sustained analysis - rudeness between strangers in public places. By treating incivility as a routine part of everyday life, rather than a policy problem to be fixed, the authors shed new light on this issue and offer some wise words about what can - and cannot - be done to produce civil social relations.'

Ian Loader - University of Oxford

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