What is the social organisation of denial?. Sociology

The people I spoke with did believe global warming was happening, expressed concern about it, yet lived their lives as though they did not know about it. Following Evitar Zerubavel, I describe this collective distancing from disturbing information as the social organisation of denial (1997, 2002). Most research to date has examined rejection on the level of individual psychology. What individuals choose to pay attention to or to ignore must be understood within the context of both social norms shaping interpersonal interaction and the broader political, economic background. Thus, Zerubavel argues that we need both psychology and sociology to study “the mental processes of attending and ignoring" (1997:11). The notion of socially organised denial emphasises that ignoring is in response to social circumstances and carried out through a process of social interaction. I describe this process of collective avoiding as the social organisation of denial. Emotions play a crucial role in denial, providing much of the reason why people preferred to avoid information. Emotion management was also a central aspect of the process of rejection, which in this community was carried out using a cultural stock of social narratives that were invoked to achieve "perspectival selectivity" and "selective interpretation."

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