The unmasking style in social theory


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25 Citations (Scopus)


This book examines the nature of unmasking in social theory, in revolutionary movements, and in popular culture. Unmasking is not the same as scientific refutation or principled disagreement. When people unmask, they claim to rip off a disguise, revealing the true beneath the feigned. The author distinguishes two basic types of unmasking. The first, aimed at persons or groups, exposes hypocrisy and enmity, and is a staple of revolutionary movements. The second, aimed at ideas, exposes illusions and ideologies, and is characteristic of radical social theory since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

The Unmasking Style in Social Theory charts the intellectual origins of unmasking, its shifting priorities, and its specific techniques in social theory. It also explores sociology’s relationship to the concept of unmasking through an analysis of writers who embrace, adapt, or reshape its meaning. Such sociologists include Vilfredo Pareto, Karl Mannheim, Raymond Aron, Peter Berger, Pierre Bourdieu, Luc Boltanski and Christian Smith.

Finally, taking conspiracy theories, accusations of social phobia, and new concepts such as micro-aggression as examples of unmasking techniques, the author shows how unmasking contributes to the polarization and bitterness of much public discussion. Demonstrating how unmasking is baked into modern culture, yet arguing that alternatives to it are still possible, this book is, in sum, a compelling study of unmasking and its impact upon modern political life and social theory.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxon
Number of pages173
ISBN (Electronic)9781315107868
ISBN (Print)9781138091757
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Publication series

NameClassical and Contemporary Social Theory


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