Edward Hopper, Night Windows, 1928

Edward Hopper, Night Windows 1928
Oil on canvas
DIGITAL IMAGE © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art/Scala, Florence

1st Global Conference
Decency: Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Saturday 9th March 2019 – Sunday 10th March 2019
Prague, Czech Republic

Decency is still important in our modern times, both in public life and in the private sphere. Yet as we push into the 21st Century, ‘decency’ increasingly appears to be coming under pressure across numerous fronts and on many diverse levels.

In one sense, decent housing, decent food, decent healthcare, decent education and a decent job are all considered necessary for people to flourish. Yet the concept is sometimes abused when deployed by powerful groups—political, social or religious—to denounce others for indecency. ‘Decent, hardworking, law-abiding citizens’ are set in stark opposition to ‘the others’ – the feckless, the lawless, the merely different or the ‘morally corrupt.’ In these cases, decency is more like an ethical force, the lack of which is deemed dangerous. And the image of decency can be used as a cover, for example, when persons who are outwardly decent and respectable use their wholesome images to hide despicable conduct.

So what is decency? How do we know it when we see it? How do we learn it? And how should it be understood, used and applied?

Societies have been struggling to understand ‘decency’ for centuries. Philosophically, Aristotle suggested that decency (epieikês) points to a kind of human goodness which is even higher than ‘nobleness’ or ‘virtue’. Religion has traditionally been a reference point for defining decency with codes of conduct for behaviour being a touchstone in the three large monotheistic religions as well as others. In Islam, for example, the decent person is not flamboyant but self-effacing. Political milieus have their own versions of decent behaviour: The second American president John Adams concluded that ‘politeness, delicacy, or decency’ can be ‘but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice’. If Adams is right, this prompts the question: is there ever virtue in being indecent? Jesus of Nazareth, British Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, and Moscow protest group ‘Pussy Riot’ spring to mind as very different examples of progressive moral agents whose actions are regarded as indecent. And perhaps the core supporters of US President Donald Trump overlook his indecency in the hope that he might make their country ‘great’ again.

Ultimately, does ‘decency’ imply a minimum standard of behaviour? Is decency a universal aspiration or is it determined locally, culturally, socially? And how does decency relate to power and the powerful, to gender (a ‘decent man’ and a ‘decent woman’ having different implications, perhaps), to the homeless, to the weak and to the strangers in our midst? Ought decency to be encouraged, or is it an outdated concept? Or, if it is to be encouraged, what role do education, popular culture, laws, and professional codes have in promoting decency? And how do we move beyond dialogue on decency to actively facilitate the practices of decency? What can be done to improve the practice of decency across all segments of private and professional life?

Our inaugural meeting of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference will initially explore all levels and aspects of decency with a view to forming a publication to engender further collaboration and discussion.

We are thrilled to open up this difficult, confusing and exciting phenomenon to exploration, assessment and examination, with an equal view to establishing real world impact in the conclusions reached. We welcome presentations and participation from scholars, thinkers, researchers and practitioners and from a wide range of disciplines and areas of study. These might include: psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors, medical professionals, nurses, addiction workers, philosophers, theologians, sociologists, feminist scholars, anthropologists, lawyers, educationalists, students, parents, teachers, clergy, NGOs, social/welfare services, human rights theorists, charities, prison officers, politicians, political scientists, architects, administrators, civil servants, cultural theorists, literary scholars, performers, creative artists, writers, sportspersons, PR and advertising professionals, journalists, market researchers, business people, and anyone else who has a contribution to make in understanding decency.

Some of the themes we would like to see discussed (though this is not an exclusive list) are:

Understanding decency

  • theorising decency and indecency
  • cultural influences on decency and indecency
  • the psychology of decency and indecency
  • the sociology of decency and indecency
  • the philosophy of decency
  • the theology of decency
  • anthropological analyses of decency and indecency
  • decency, ethics and etiquette
  • common decency: are there universal standards?

Representations of decency

  • portrayal of decency and indecency in literature
  • decent characters in film, theatre and so on
  • decency and indecency shown in the mass media
  • famous historical examples of decency
  • depictions of decency in art
  • decency in film, tv, music, dance, and other types of creative expression
  • ‘indecency’ in the arts (e.g. the Hayes code; censorship; parental advisory warnings)

Decency in practice

  • decency and empathy
  • decency in relationships
  • decency and the family
  • decency and gender
  • decency and civil society; civility
  • decency in political life
  • decency and human development (Sen and Haq’s Human Development Index)
  • human rights; decent living conditions
  • decency in cyberspace (eg the Communications Decency Act, USA, 1996)
  • decency and communication
  • decency and wealth
  • decency and power
  • decency and repression
  • decency and religion
  • decency in sport
  • decency in dress
  • decency and nudity (gym worker knocking on changing-room door: “Are you decent?”)
  • decency in speech
  • decency and good taste
  • decency and duty
  • decency towards other species

Decency in adversity

  • decency and compassion
  • decency towards the vulnerable and impoverished (elderly, unemployed, refugees)
  • decency and homelessness
  • decency and disability
  • decency in social care
  • decency and diversity
  • decency in therapeutic relationships
  • decency in nursing
  • decency and mental illness
  • decency and end of life
  • decency in the justice system
  • decency and law enforcement
  • decency and the victim
  • decency and the prisoner
  • ‘ordinary decent criminals’ (vs terrorists)
  • decency and temptation
  • decency and deviance (‘decent’ vs ‘street’)
  • decency in warfare; treating ‘the enemy’ decently

Decency in the workplace

  • decent work
  • decent management practices
  • decency in business
  • decency in customer relations
  • decency and the bottom line.
  • decency and administration.
  • decency in financial services.
  • decency and the professions.
  • decency and education
  • decency in teaching; role modelling; the ‘one good adult’.
  • decency and research


  • barriers to decency: poverty, illness, lack of education, conflict
  • who defines ‘indecent’?
  • indecency and sexuality
  • indecent exposure.
  • indecent haste
  • indecent proposal
  • indecent behaviour
  • offending against public decency
  • gross indecency
  • immodesty, unseemliness
  • # Me Too
  • indecency as a paradoxical virtue
  • indecency and protest

What to Send
The aim of this interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, roundtables etc.

300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 12th October 2018. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chair.

All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 26th October 2018

If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 25th January 2019.

Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Decency Submission

Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:

Dr Seán Moran:
Project Administrator:

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What’s so Special About Progressive Connexions Events?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.

A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.

A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.

An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.

An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.

Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.

Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.