Decency and Difference

Humanity and the Global Challenge of Identity Politics
Steven C. Roach

This book critically examines the many difficulties and possibilities of advancing decency in world politics


Decency remains one of the most prevalent yet least understood terms in today’s political discourse. In evoking respect, kindness, courage, integrity, reason, and tolerance, it has long expressed an unquestioned duty and belief in promoting and protecting the dignity of all persons. Today this unquestioned belief is in crisis. Tribalism and identity politics have both hindered and threatened its moral stability and efficacy. Still, many continue to undertheorize its political character by isolating it from the effects of identity politics. Decency and Difference argues that decency is a primary source of the political tension that has long shaped the struggles for power, identity, and justice in the global arena. It distinguishes among basic, conservative, and liberal strands of decency to critically examine the many conflicting and competing applications of decency in global politics. Together these different strands reflect a long and uneven evolution from the British and American Empire to a global network of justice. By engaging the contradictions of the progressive and retrogressive qualities of decency and the role played by emotion and affect in driving these contradictions, the book exposes the propriety gaps of decency and the disparate ways that it is practiced in global politics. The book thus addresses the global challenge of reconciling different political proprieties and configuring a diverse political ethic of decency.


“Nobody, presumably, wants to be indecent, and this excellent book by Steven C. Roach explores the significance but also the hypocrisy of 'decency' in international relations. This is a challenging book in the best of ways and is a must-read for anybody concerned with the ethics of the global order.”
—Ilan Baron, Durham University

Steven C. Roach is Professor of International Relations and Graduate Director at the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 288pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2019
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-13162-4

  • $75.00 U.S.

Related Products