Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Monday, 9 January 2006

Views on respect: Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett
American-born Richard Sennett is professor of sociology at the London School of Economics
His book Respect has been described in the newspapers as required reading in the corridors of Whitehall

We are more aware of this yob behaviour because of the media. Brits have always been drunks, it goes back to Hogarth.

This is something in the culture, you've always had a significant strand of violent drunks but the media has packaged this as though it's something that's just happened.

That's part of how they got into this yob behaviour stuff.

Very few of these people have ever lived in marginal communities.

Brown has his feet on the ground more than Blair but most of these people do not go down to the pub and see what happens at 10.30pm - they are in a restaurant having a cigar and a Chardonnay.

It's been a kind of folie a deux between the upper middle class left wing and the newspapers.


Is it any surprise to you that a politician who elicits less and less respect from his public thinks that the public has a problem with respect. Blair wasn't worried about this in 1998.

This Whitehall project is just the wrong end of the telescope. The issue isn't how individuals can behave better but how institutions can behave better.

The question is how institutions can treat individuals with respect, particularly those who are not powerful within organisations, but just ordinary workers doing their job.

For me the issue isn't good manners, it is behaving responsibly. If somebody puts in 20 years of service to an organisation, you don't send them a notice of dismissal saying you will be gone in three months.

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