1st Edition

Radical Civility A Study in Utopia and Democracy

By Jason Caro Copyright 2023
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Radical Civility unearths civility’s extraordinary potential by addressing why the virtue has fallen into crisis, recalling the injunctions that transpose utopia upon the stingy politics of likelihood, and by offering a vision of citizens who find purpose in dignifying each other.

    Jason Caro takes a three-pronged approach; first, identifying the effects of the misuse of civility, then expanding the meaning of civility, and finally offering applied examples of civility. Civility bears its participants to utopia. Such utopia has many forms: the politics of unlikelihood, the civil community, the ideal civility situation, or charmocracy. Unlike many studies of political manners, Caro embraces the relation between the virtue and politeness. Civility is then the effort to have politics charm. Caro draws out the full potential of the virtue by observing how such politeness is a particular mode of communicative action whereby participants are not merely exchanging face-saving gestures but constructing utopia.

    This radical stance raises the stakes of the debate on civility by setting the book implacably against realism and its politics of likelihood. It will appeal to those in the social sciences, cultural studies, social psychology, philosophy, communication, and peace studies.

    1. Introduction

    Part 1

    2. Warning Sign

    3. The Problem of Malpropriety

    Part 2

    4. Civility and Justice

    5. Radical Civilities

    Part 3

    6. Democratic Manners

    7. Utopian Citizenship

    8. Conclusion


    Jason Caro is associate professor of political science at the University of Houston-Downtown and has published in venues ranging from Political Theory and Political Studies to Philosophy and Social Criticism and the Continental Philosophy Review. His first book was titled the Origins of Free Peoples. This is his second book and should be a useful addition to the topic of civility and the politics of manners.

    “This book is a novel treatment of how civility is practiced in modern society. By introducing the concept of ‘radical civility’ Caro forcefully pushes back against those who would argue that civility is just a matter of manners, or that calls for civility are just ways of preserving the status quo. This is a fresh look at an old debate, one that is original and yet will strike the reader as something we should have known long ago.”
    Robert Boatright

    “A powerful and novel defense of a virtue often maligned in contemporary political theory, Caro’s book helps us understand the limitations of civility as mere manners, as well as the transformative political possibilities of a utopian form of radical civility.”
    Jeffrey Church

    “This timely book lays out an engaging and provocative defense of the virtue of civility, in a world that seems to reject it as either useless or ideological. It articulates a concept of radical civility by way of both a rigorous analysis of historical sources and a subtle understanding of the contemporary political landscape. Caro shows that civility is a condition of possibility for reflection, revealing utopian elements within the dramaturgical scenes of social-political discourse.”
    Jeffrey Jackson