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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter elaborates the concept of cultural blind spots, which are social patterns of inattention. Both sensory and cognitive forms of selective attention are foundational mechanisms of the social construction process. Despite this, and despite the presence of the unattended in social life as a consistent but often implicit theme in social theory, cultural blind spots have never previously been explicitly theorized. Nonetheless, there is a rich conceptual foundation for a social theory of blind spots in research establishing thinking and perceiving as sociocultural processes, as well as in studies of everyday life and the taken for granted. A synthesis of this theoretical background suggests two different cognitive processes that create blind spots—focusing and habituationeach with a slightly different structure of attention and relationship to power, normativity, and the unmarked. Despite these differences, both types of blind spots provide insight into social construction as a process of excluding information, and both suggest analytic strategies for revealing the previously inattended. Key strategies discussed include adopting mindsets conducive to deautomatization and defamiliarization and analytically creating attentional shifts through reversing, marking the unmarked, filter analysis, and multisensory research.

Keywords: Culture, cognition, sensory perception, attention, blind spots, social construction

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