Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Elephant in the RoomSilence and Denial in Everyday Life$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Eviatar Zerubavel

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195187175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187175.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 November 2020

The Rules of Denial

The Rules of Denial

(p.17) Chapter Two The Rules of Denial
The Elephant in the Room

Eviatar Zerubavel

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the social organization of denial. Focus shifts as social attitudes change. Noticing and ignoring are always performed by members of particular social communities with particular social conventions of attention and communication. In fact, the way one focuses his attention is often grounded in highly impersonal social traditions of paying attention. The normative underpinnings of the mental acts of noticing and ignoring are most spectacularly evident in the tacit social rules that determine what is considered irrelevant. It is noted that one acts tactfully when one “passes over something…and leaves it unsaid.” The distinction between tact and taboo is not as clear-cut as it may seem. It becomes fairly fuzzy when one considers, for example, the kind of silence produced by “political correctness,” as when people refrain from using race labels to avoid the risk of being considered racist.

Keywords:   denial, social organization, focus, noticing, ignoring, tact, taboo, irrelevant

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .