The Social Construction of Ignorance

  • Michael Smithson
Part of the Cognitive Science book series (COGNITIVE SCIEN)


Ignorance has been a marginal and neglected topic in the social sciences, as is the case in cognate disciplines. Indeed, most of what mainstream social science says about ignorance is merely implicit in its outpourings about knowledge. As for direct statements about ignorance or even uncertainty themselves, at best, one could say there is a fragmentary literature that is loosely held together by common themes. This state of affairs might seem to justify ignoring altogether whatever contributions sociologists, social psychologists, and anthropologists may have made in this area. However, this literature has important redeeming features in that it discusses several aspects of ignorance that are not effectively covered in the perspectives we have reviewed so far. Moreover, at least some social scientists bring to their commentary philosophical perspectives that differ in crucial ways from those that inform either applied mathematicians or cognitive psychologists.


Impression Management Information Seek Symbolic Interactionist Social Consensus Hide Economy 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Smithson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral SciencesJames Cook University of North QueenslandTownsvilleAustralia

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