Civility: A Cultural History by Benet DavetianCivility: A Cultural History by Benet Davetian

Civility: A Cultural History

byBenet Davetian

Paperback | April 18, 2009

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Cut off in traffic? Bumped without apology on the subway? Forced to listen to a profane conversation in a public space? In today's Western societies, many feel that there has been a noticeable and marked decrease in mutual consideration in both public and private settings. Are we less civil now than in the past? Benet Davetian's masterful study Civility: A Cultural History responds to this question through a historical, social, and psychological discussion of the civility practices in three nations - England, France, and the United States.

Davetian's rich, multi-dimensional review of civility from 1200 to the present day provides an in-depth analysis of the social and personal psychology of human interaction and charts a new course for the study and understanding of civility and civil society. Civility addresses major topics in public discourse today regarding the ideals and practices of civility and the possibility of a future civility ethic capable of inspiring cooperation across cultural and national boundaries.

Dr Benet Davetian is chair and associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Prince Edward Island (Canada) and director of the Civility Institute. He is listed in Canada's Who's Who for his accomplishments in literature and the social sciences.
Title:Civility: A Cultural HistoryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:608 pages, 9 × 6.05 × 1.17 inPublished:April 18, 2009Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing DivisionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802097227

ISBN - 13:9780802097224


Rated 5 out of 5 by from AUTHORS THANKS THOSE WHO HAVE ENDORSED THE BOOK: Benet Davetian’s scintillating tour de force fills a gaping void in the history of ideas. If you are serious about the civility-civilization connection, you will want your well-thumbed copy of Norbert Elias’ tome to share a place on your nightstand with this newcomer destined to last. • P.M. Forni, Professor, Johns Hopkins University. Author of Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct “Civility: A cultural History" is a tour-de-force: a work of dazzling scholarship on this core concept of our social life, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, and covering France, England and the United States. Spitting, line-up etiquette, toilet hygiene, good manners, and the relativity of politeness are all discussed as they change and vary in this most engaging and poetically written work. Davetian is as much at home with “The Art of Courtly Love,” the Enlightenment, the rise of individualism, the Victorian gentleman and gentlewoman, as with contemporary teens and narcissism. It’s absolutely fascinating! • Anthony Synnott, Professor of Sociology, Concordia University. Author of The Body Social; Shadows: Issues and Social Problems in Canada; co-author of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell. Benet Davetian’s Civility will take you on a compelling social and psychological journey through the history of civility, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Essential reading for anyone interested in international standards and customs of courtesy, Davetian’s perspective on the cross-cultural impact of civility practices is not only thorough and insightful, but also encouragingly optimistic. • Louise Fox, etiquette coach and Director of The Etiquette Leader. Benet Davetian’s magisterial yet highly readable study forms a worthy complement to Norbert Elias’ classic discussion. The book includes many fascinating insights into the differences in civility practices between France, England, and the USA. • William Outhwaite, Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University. Author of European Society; The Future of Society; Co-Editor of the Blackwell Dictionary Of Social Thought. This is an interesting and important piece of scholarship. It traces the evolution of civility across time and space, and finds that instead of being a monolithic concept, civility has taken different forms in France, England and the US. In this tour, Davetian takes us from the distant past to the present day, and also examines how the tide of civility may have crested, and may now be receding. A great read. • A. R. Gillis, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, University of Toronto Dr. Davetian has accomplished an important goal with his book. He has meshed the personal and social into a text that gives meaning to disembodied theories. His academic credentials are impeccable but so are his feelings and emotions, his humanity, in regard to sociological phenomena. • Dr. Arthur Janov, Director, The Primal Center, Santa Monica. Author of The Primal Scream; The Feeling Child; Primal Healing. Impressive in both scope and depth, this engaging book is an innovative and substantial dialogue on the concept of civility. Well documented and erudite, it not only historicizes the development of civility but also grounds it in today’s society, offering a renewed perspective on crucial issues such as multiculturalism. I read Civility with great pleasure. • Jean-François Côté, Professor of Sociology, Université du Québec à Montréal. Author of: Architecture d’un marcheur. Entretiens avec Wajdi Mouawad; Le triangle d’Hermès. Poe, Stein, Warhol, figures de la modernité esthétique.
Date published: 2009-05-10

Table of Contents



Part I: The Genealogy of Western Courtesy and Civility

From Barbarism to Courtly Manners
Secular Civility in the Renaissance
Shifts in Identity and Awareness: Protestantism and the Enlightenment
French Court Society, the French Revolution, and the Paradoxes of French Civility
England and the Victorian Ethic
The American Experience: Democracy and Informal Civility

Part II: The Rise of the Late-Modern American Self

Conformity, Opposition, and Identity

Part III: The Multifaceted Anatomy of Civility

Towards a Cultural Sociology of Civility

Part IV: Contemporary French, American, and English Civility and Interaction

A Comparative Field Study of France, America, and England

Part V: Summing Up

Civilizing and Recivilizing Processes



Editorial Reviews

'Civility: A Cultural History is impressive in both scope and depth, engaging in an innovative and substantial dialogue on the concept of civility. Well documented and erudite, Benet Davetian's book not only historicizes the development of civility but also locates the concept in today's society and offers a renewed perspective on crucial issues such as multiculturalism. I read Civility with great pleasure.' - Jean-François Côté, Department of Sociology, Université du Québec à Montréal. Author of Architecture d'un marcher: Entretiens avec Wajdi Mouawad; Le triangle d'Hermès: Poe, Stein, Warhol, figures de la modernité