Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

Excerpt

The realm of activity that is generated by face-to-face interaction and organized by norms of co-mingling—a domain containing weddings, family meals, chaired meetings, forced marches, service encounters, queues, crowds, and couples—has never been sufficiently treated as a subject matter in its own right. In fact, a convenience has often been made of it. Whenever a concrete illustration has been needed of how it is with a social establishment, or a bit of social structure, or even a society, interaction vignettes have been fetched in to provide vivid evidence and, incidentally, a little obeisance to the fact that there are people out there moving about. Thus interaction practices have been used to illuminate other things, but themselves are treated as though they did not need to be defined or were not worth defining. Yet the nicest use for these events is the explication of their own generic character.

Recently this neglected field—the field of public life —has begun to receive very active attention, this being an aspect no doubt of a complex unsettling expressed variously in the current unsafety and incivility of our city streets, the new political device . . .

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