Friday, January 23, 2009

[respectability] and what’s hidden beneath

Drawing room plays and Victorian novels stressed the necessity for money and therefore respectability.

Everything was predicated on money and above all else, one had to have wealth, which had the added advantage of providing a locked closet for former indiscretions.

It’s not just the British who place great store by respectability but the Brits have made an art form of it.

When I went into a properties place to get some accommodation, the "respectable" looking Higham, at first, had them interested but the moment it became apparent that I was just as impecunious as the average denizen around these parts, the tune changed very quickly.

So what is respectability?

Is it a bourgeois illusion, a thin veneer papering up the cracks or is it something more – a sense of decency and fair dealing? Maybe it's the possession of wealth after all.

What does respectability actually mean?

And is it important?


Pisces Iscariot said...

As used by the gentry it is a perfect example of the perversion of language - what should mean deserving of respect came to mean of the 'right' class.


Money certainly does not equal respectability,it only buys a good facade.
To me, respectability is self respect,honesty,integrity and morality.

Sackerson said...


CherryPie said...

respectability is self respect,honesty,integrity and morality

I agree. Respectability comes from within.

Anonymous said...

you are only respectable ,until you are caught out lol


Having money certainly doesn't make you respectable.

dearieme said...

Sociologists used to distinguish the respectable working class from the rough working class. It wasn't about wealth.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

integrity and decency are far more important

His Girl Friday said...

having money and social class does not mean one 'has class'.

A respectable person is one who has integrity. Doing the right thing even when no one is looking, keeping your word, taking responsibility for your actions when you've made a mistake.

Yet, aren't these seemingly old fashioned ideals, anymore?

North Northwester said...

Respectability - the appearance, hotly sought in earlier years, that a person has standards of decency and believes that there are limits beyond which a person should not go in pursuing whatever values or goals.

'It's just not done old boy' must have limited the worst excesses of imperial power because if that was the case, then it jolly well wasn't done.

Pride in self, in one's righteousness can be harmful like any other virtue taken to excess, but the only way I know of being liked is by acting likeably.

That's respectability, as old as the English.
Our national genius is largely to know and codify 'what's done, old boy.'

That's what we respect deep down; fitting in, being a good chap.

Not for us the American need for fame and fortune, or the French desire to be thought clever and fashionable in our intellectual development, but fitting in and being one of the lads or lasses - that's our thing.

And in all the peace and quiet and social stability of fitting in, we had energy and time to run the industrial revolution and acquire large tracts of land (hah!)

Good guys come second, do you think?

North Northwester said...

And Duff and Nonsense is having a lively debate on moral decline over here;

Looks like a fair few of us are worried about this - and looking carefully under the bonnet of the gross politics of the economy.

jams o donnell said...

I can't see the pont of maintaining some facade of respectability.. why join teh fur coat and no lnickers brigade. As with Heremy Jacobs I think integrity and decency are far more important attributes

James Higham said...

Pisces - yes it did.

Uber - I'd agree.

Sackers - precisely.

Cherie - it does.

VM - the golden rule.

DR - tell that to the suits, of course.

DM - I'm lower than both now.

Jeremy - agreed.

HGF - also agreed.

NNW - wdob - yes.

Jams - like the new vocab :)