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Rethinking Urban Incivility Research: Strangers, Bodies and Circulations

Timothy Phillips and Philip Smith
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Timothy Phillips: Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia, timothy.phillips@anu.edu.au
Philip Smith: Department of Sociology, Yale University, PO Box 208265, New Haven, CT 06520-8265, USA, philip.smith@yale.edu

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 5-6, 879-901

Abstract: Research on urban incivility has made progress but has limited scope thanks to a stereotyped and policy-relevant focus on problem neighbourhoods and urban renewal. It also lacks benchmark comparative data, has almost nothing to say about interpersonal incivility and is experiencing diminishing returns to effort. A new agenda is proposed that explores everyday life incivility as this is experienced over the broader population in the course of daily routine. The Everyday Life Incivility in Australia Survey is introduced. This was a random national sample survey collecting systematic narrative information on interpersonal encounters involving a rude stranger. Findings from the study are reported here, documenting the range of low-level incivilities experienced in daily life and outlining some of their properties. The results challenge received wisdom about the corrosive effects of urban incivility on society.

Date: 2006
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