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Incivility is a general term for social behaviour lacking in civility or good manners, on a scale from rudeness or lack of respect for elders, to vandalism and hooliganism, through public drunkenness and threatening behaviour.[1] The word "incivility" is derived from the Latin incivilis, meaning "not of a citizen".[2]

The distinction between plain rudeness, and perceived incivility as threat, will depend on some notion of civility as structural to society; incivility as anything more ominous than bad manners is therefore dependent on appeal to notions like its antagonism to the complex concepts of civic virtue or civil society. It has become a contemporary political issue in a number of countries.[3]

Workplace incivility

A 2011 report in USA Today defined Workplace incivility as "a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm." [4] The article asserts further that researchers had announced at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association that "Workplace incivility is on the rise" [4] Uncivil behaviors are characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others."[5] Incivility is distinct from violence. Examples of workplace incivility include insulting comments, denigration of the target's work, spreading false rumors, and social isolation.

See also


  1. "Definition of 'Incivility'". AskOxford. Retrieved 2006-11-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Catherine Soanes, Angus Stevenson (Eds.), ed. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Oxford University Press.CS1 maint: extra text: editors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Incivility in Political Discourse (The Coming Apogee of the Moonbat Hordes)". InDC Journal. 2004-10-13. Retrieved 2006-11-25. External link in |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. 2011-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Andersson, Lynne M.; Pearson, Christine M. (July 1999). "Tit for Tat? The Spiraling Effect of Incivility in the Workplace". The Academy of Management Review. 24 (3): 452–71. doi:10.2307/259136. JSTOR 259136.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Digby Anderson, editor (1996) Gentility Recalled: Mere Manners and the Making of Social Order
  • Stephen L. Carter (1998) Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, Basic Books, 1998, ISBN 978-0-465-02384-4
  • P.M. Forni, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, St. Martin's Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-312-28118-2
  • Judith Martin, Miss Manners: A Citizen's Guide to Civility, ISBN 978-0-609-80158-1
  • Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President in War and Peace
  • Benet Davetian, "Civility – A Cultural History," University of Toronto Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8020-9722-4
  • P.M. Forni Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct
  • P.M. Forni The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude
  • Os Guinness The Case for Civility
  • George Washington Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
  • T.S. Bogorad The Importance of Civility


  • "Candor, far from being the enemy of civility, is one of its preconditions." Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, May 29, 2009
  • "I don't believe in confrontation. That seems to me outside civil discourse and we all have to find way to be civil to one another." Condoleezza Rice, NPR interview, March 4, 2009.
  • "... people shouldn't underestimate the value of civility." President Barack Obama
  • "There is a toxic nature to Washington that thrives on food fights and thrives on controversy and thrives on people not getting along." Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign.
  • "On both sides of any issue, I'd like to see us increasingly wage ideological battles with words and ideas and not with volume and antics." Mark DeMoss, NPR interview, August 12, 2009.
  • "Civility costs nothing and buys everything." Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 1689–1766
  • "It's too much to expect in an academic setting that we should all agree, but it's not too much to expect discipline and unvarying civility." John Howard, Australian statesman
  • "Teaching civility is an obligation of the family." Stephen Carter
  • "The greatest challenge facing contemporary civilization is to bring some peace between our competitive spirit and our need for communal well-being." Benet Davetian

External links

Movements and organizations promoting civility

  • Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project in 1997. An aggregation of academic and community outreach activities, the JHCP aimed at assessing the significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society. The JHCP has been reconstituted as The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, which Dr. Forni now directs. This Web site is designed to introduce Dr. Forni's work on civility and to offer links to related material (
  • The Civility Project is a voluntary, grassroots movement of people from diverse backgrounds who agree that, at this critical time in America's history, solutions to our most pressing problems will be found only through a more civil exchange of ideas. A web-based organization, hopes to promote more civility in public discourse. Mark DeMoss and long-time Clinton advisor Lanny Davis launched The Civility Project ( earlier 2009.
  • Choose Civility is an ongoing community-wide initiative, led by Howard County Library, to position Howard County, Maryland as a model of civility. The project intends to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Howard County (
  • The National Civility Center is a not-for-profit organization established in 2000 to help people make their communities better places to live. They believe that a comprehensive approach to community improvement—one that engages all local stakeholders around shared ideas and a unified plan for action—can help community members and organizations become more effective at solving tough social issues (
  • The Institute for Civility believes there are two key threats to the effectiveness and efficiency of our governing process today. A nation experiencing both polarization and citizen apathy is a nation at risk. The institute works to reduce polarization in society by focusing on the very public civility (or lack of it!) in the governing process by facilitating dialogue, teaching respect, and building civility ( and
  • "The Civility Institute" (, founded by Dr. Benet Davetian (author of Civility-A Cultural History), conducts research on civility and provides consultations for institutions, schools, corporations. The goal of the institute is to offer beneficiaries with a practical understanding of the social psychology of civility and how civility can be increased without interfering with the mandates of a competitive society.