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Professional Civility

Communicative Virtue at Work

Janie M. Harden Fritz

Winner of the Everett Lee Hunt Award 2014.
Winner of the NCA Clifford G. Christians Ethics Research Award 2013 from the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research


The crisis of incivility plaguing today’s workplace calls for an approach to communication that restores respect and integrity to interpersonal encounters in organizational life. Professional civility is a communicative virtue that protects and promotes productivity, one’s place of employment, and persons with whom we carry out our tasks in the workplace. Drawn from the history of professions as dignified occupations providing valuable contributions to the human community, an understanding of civility as communicative virtue, and MacIntyre’s treatment of practices, professional civility supports the «practice» of professions in contemporary organizations. A communicative ethic of professional civility requires attentiveness to the task at hand, support of an organization’s mission, and appropriate relationships with others in the workplace. Professional civility fosters communicative habits of the heart that extend beyond the walls of the workplace, encouraging a return to the service ethic that remains an enduring legacy of the professions in the United States.

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Preface ix Acknowledgments XIII INTRODUCTION: A FRAMEWORK FOR PROFESSIONAL CIVILITY 1 A Call to Responsibility: Civility and the Professions 1 Professional Civility: Communicative Virtue at Work 11 Structure of the Book 15 CHAPTER 1: VIRTUE ETHICS AND THE PROFESSIONS 23 Introduction 23 A Foundation for Professional Civility as Communicative 24 Virtue at Work MacIntyre’s Virtue Ethics Applied to the Professions 30 Conclusion 43 CHAPTER 2: THE TRADITION OF PROFESSION AS PRACTICE 45 Introduction 45 The True Professional Ideal 46 Goods of Professions 58 Conclusion 62 aa_toc only_t5 10/12/2012 9:04 AM Page v CHAPTER 3: THE COMMUNICATIVE VIRTUE OF CIVILITY 63 Introduction 63 Civility in Context 64 Incivility as Communicative Vice 71 Civility as Communicative Virtue 74 Theoretical Coordinates of Civility as Communicative Virtue 78 Conclusion 85 CHAPTER 4: PROFESSIONAL CIVILITY AS COMMUNICATIVE VIRTUE AT WORK 87 Introduction 87 Virtues, Professions, and Civility: Professional Civility as 89 Communicative Virtue Professional Civility: Conceptual Coordinates 96 Practices of Professional Civility: A First Look 107 Conclusion 109 CHAPTER 5: A PRAGMATIC CASE FOR THE EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATION 111 IN THE WORKPLACE Introduction 111 Communication as Constitutive 112 Communication and Work Environments 117 The Organizational Socialization Process as Context for 119 Communicative Shaping Effects of Incivility 128 Conclusion 131 CHAPTER 6: PROTECTING AND PROMOTING PRODUCTIVITY 133 Introduction 133 Work and the Human Condition 134 Productivity and Communicative Action 139 Levels of Engagement 148 Conclusion 153 CHAPTER 7: PROTECTING AND PROMOTING THE GOOD OF PLACE 154 Introduction 154 Care for the Local Home:...

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