Monday, 1 February 2010

IPS: Etiquette and Manners

Define the topic

Etiquette is a code of behaviour that delineates expectations for social behaviour according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. A rule of etiquette may reflect an underlying ethical code, or it may reflect a person's fashion or status. Rules of etiquette are usually unwritten, but aspects of etiquette have been codified from time to time.

Manners, in sociology, are the unenforced standards of conduct which show the actor that you are proper, polite, and refined. They are like laws in that they codify or set a standard for human behaviour, but they are unlike laws in that there is no formal system for punishing transgressions, other than social disapproval. They are a kind of norm. What is considered "mannerly" is highly susceptible to change with time, geographical location, social stratum, occasion, and other factors.

Manners involve a wide range of social interactions within cultural norms as in the "comedy of manners", or a painter's characteristic "manner". Etiquette and manners, like mythology, have buried histories especially when they seem to have little obvious purpose, and their justifications as logical ("respect shown to others" etc.) may be equally revealing to the social historian.

"Etiquette tells one which fork to use. Manners tells one what to do when your neighbour doesn't"

"Etiquette has been define as a code of laws which binds society together -- viewless as the wind -- and yet exercising a vast influence upon the well-being of mankind."

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