University Of Tasmania

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Emotional and behavioural responses to everyday incivility

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 15:06 authored by Phillips, T, Smith, P
Although antisocial behaviour has become an issue of political and policy concern, social science lacks basic information on such events. This article explores one aspect of such everyday incivility - how people react emotionally and behaviourally to the badly behaved stranger. Mainstream criminology, as well as the social theory of Goffman and Bauman, is oriented around a fear/avoidance vision. This dominant paradigm is unnecessarily restrictive on intellectual inquiry. A raft of other options including anger/intervention; disgust/aversion and indifference/do nothing are analytically reconstructed from the classical social theory of Durkheim, Elias and Simmel. These various models are applied to incidents coded from the transcripts of the Melbourne Everyday Incivility Project. The results show that emotions and behaviours tend to pair up as predicted. Fear/avoidance, however, is a relatively uncommon response to incivil encounters. Anger/intervention and indifference/do nothing are more frequent. The former is especially associated with events where the respondent is a ‘victim’, and the latter with those where the respondent is an onlooker. These findings suggest the limitations of current criminological research in areas related to incivility and fear of crime, and have implications for collective efficacy, social capital and broken windows criminology.


Publication title

Journal of Sociology










School of Social Sciences


Sage Publications

Place of publication

London, UK

Rights statement

Copyright 2004, SAGE Publications.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other culture and society not elsewhere classified