civil inattention


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civil inattention

the ways in which an individual shows that he or she is aware that others are present without making those others the object of particular attention (GOFFMAN, Behaviour in Public Places, 1963). For example, the eyes of one person may glance at the other but not directly engage, or quickly disengage should a more direct engaging seem likely to occur. Civil inattention illustrates the existence of an ‘interaction order’ and ‘interaction ritual’ which Goffman sees as governing the general processes of social interactions (see INTERACTION, INTERACTION RITUAL AND INTERACTION ORDER).
References in periodicals archive ?
Where Victorians would greet each other formally as they passed, Goffman describes the accepted and more modern practice of "civil inattention." This involved looking at strangers briefly to investigate and acknowledge them in a shared public space before turning one's gaze away to prevent the impression of intrusion or hostility: "One gives another enough visual notice to demonstrate that one appreciates the other, is present (and that one admits openly to having seen him), while at the next moment withdrawing one's attention from him so as to express that he does not constitute a target of special curiosity or design."
Yet who would deny someone the right to "civil inattention" by correcting a defect or feature that attracts curious stares?

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