Unmasking and disclosure as sociological practices : contrasting modes for understanding religious and other beliefs

William Peter BAEHR, Daniel GORDON

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

5 Citations (Scopus)


Unmasking is a recurrent feature of modern sociology and cultural criticism. While false consciousness is imputed by intellectuals to religious groups and to certain social classes, unmasking is, or claims to be, a corrective performed by intellectuals themselves. Unmasking supposes that enlightened enquirers are able to help the less rational to understand their real interests; a type of exposure, it offers a cognitive tool of emancipation. This article (a) examines unmasking; and (b) contrasts it with an approach to understanding that we call disclosure. Our claim is that disclosure is more attuned to the full keyboard of social action, and less demeaning of its players, than unmasking is. Disclosure attempts to grasp what actions are like for those who enact them. Nothing has been more often or consistently unmasked and with more venom than religion. It is the main example explored in this article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-396
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


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