Respect: An Exploration, by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, is a compelling investigation into the meaning and role of respect in our personal, professional, and civic lives. Through the eloquently told stories of six ordinary people—midwife, pediatrician, teacher, photographer, professor, and hospice worker—Lawrence-Lightfoot challenges us to rethink traditional understandings of this fundamental value and shows us instead how it can be a transformative force of empowerment and symmetry in our relationships, identities, and everyday experiences. Respect is a powerful example of deep inquiry and analysis by a celebrated academic. It is also a beautifully written, approachable, and revealing book on a topic that will always be relevant in the lives of individuals and central to the work of the University of Washington.
In the author’s own words:
“In this book, I hope to shape a new view of respect. Usually, respect is seen as involving some sort of debt due people because of their attained or inherent position, their age, gender, class, race, professional status, accomplishments, etc. Whether defined by rules of law or habits of culture, respect often requires expressions of esteem, approbation, or submission. By contrast, I focus on the way respect creates symmetry, empathy, and connection in all kinds of relationships, even those, such as teacher and student, doctor and patient, commonly seen as unequal. Rather than looking for respect as a given in certain relationships, I am interested in watching it develop over time. I see it not only as an expression of circumstance, history, temperament, and culture, rooted in rituals and habits, but also arising from efforts to break with routines and imagine other ways of giving and receiving trust, and in so doing, creating relationships among equals.” (p. 10-11)
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