New book by Janet Flammang
Etiquette books insist that we never discuss politics during a meal. In Table Talk , Janet A. Flammang offers a polite rebuttal, presenting vivid firsthand accounts of people's lives at the table to show how mealtimes can teach us the conversational give-and-take foundational to democracy.
Delving into the ground rules about listening, sharing, and respect that we obey when we break bread, Flammang shows how conversations and table activities represent occasions for developing our civil selves. If there are cultural differences over practices--who should speak, what behavior is acceptable, what topics are off limits, how to resolve conflict--our exposure to the making, enforcement, and breaking of these rules offers a daily dose of political awareness and growth. Political table talk provides a forum to practice the conversational skills upon which civil society depends. It also ignites the feelings of respect, trust, and empathy that undergird the idea of a common good that is fundamental to the democratic process.