Sociology Index


MYSTIFICATION is the process of masking or covering up central aspects of society or of social relationships. Conflict or critical theorists are interested in the ways in which forms of social domination based on sex, social class or colonialism are camouflaged so that these social structures, and the state which assists in their reproduction, are seen as legitimate. Mystification allows for domination that is not based on evident coercion or force, but is maintained by a wide variety of social institutions and cultural values. Mystification is the seventh element identified by Erving Goffman in dramaturgical model.

The Mystification of Social Deviance - In Western societies there are two fundamental views of social deviance: the absolutist and the relativist. In highlighting the differences between the absolutist and the relativist viewpoints: the significance of power in shaping public views of deviance, the conception of diversity and dissent as pathological, the role of moral indignation in social reactions to deviant behavior, the strategies of mystification used by dominant groups to bolster the ideological and moral monopoly of their views in the conventional social order, and the cooptation of scientists, psychiatrists, and other social control agents in this mystification progress. -  Stuart L. Hills, St. Lawrence University, Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 23, No. 4 (1977).

Mystification and Social Drama: The Hidden Side of Communication Skills Training - Michael B. Elmes, Melinda Costello - Human Relations, Vol. 45, No. 5 (1992).
This paper examines several aspects of management communication skills training. It discusses communication "skills" and their hidden potential as methods that sustain and mystify bureaucratic control. Examines the social drama of communication skills training. Based on participant observation of a 4-day communication skills training seminar, the paper identifies and discusses six categories which, we argue, are designed to convert participants into practitioners and believers of the skills.

The Mystification of Culture - Western Perceptions of Japan 
Phil Hammond - International Communication Gazette, Vol. 61, No. 3-4. (1999)
In Western media coverage, Japan is portrayed as a country defined by its difference from the West. The repeated emphasis on cultural difference is a coded way of discussing racial difference. Examples discussed include British press coverage of the 1995 Kobe earthquake and the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. A similar `racial' conception of culture also underpins academic analyses of Japanese cultural difference, for example in anthropology. The tendency is mystification of culture by treating it as the starting point for analysis, rather than examining its social and historical roots.

The Mystification of Organizational Learning 
Victor J. Friedman, Emek Yezreel College, Raanan Lipshitz, University of Haifa, Micha Popper, University of Haifa, Israel - Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol. 14, No. 1, 19-30 (2005).
Despite the growing popularity of organizational learning and the proliferation of literature on the subject, the concept remains elusive for researchers and managers alike. This article argues that enduring uncertainty about the meaning and practice of organizational learning reflects its so-called mystification. It attributes mystification to five features of the field: (a) ever-increasing conceptual diversity, (b) anthropomorphizing organizational learning, (c) a split in the field between visionaries and skeptics, (d) the reification of terminology, and (e) active mystification of the concept. The article explains and illustrates how the literature on organizational learning has contributed to these processes of mystification.

Les superstitions, mystification des relations quotidiennes - Z. A. Tazhurizina 
Social Compass, Vol. 21, No. 2, 153-169 (1974).
The author shows that the Russian Orthodox Church throughout the centuries has combatted superstition on theo logical grounds. Nonetheless, many Orthodox parishoners, and to some extent the clergy themselves, manifest elements of superstition. In the popular mind, and to most Soviet scholars, Baptism takes a more consistently conscious and rational approach to religious faith. Baptism, too, is firmly against superstition, but many Baptists are superstitious. Even non-believing members of the Soviet intelligentsia are not immune. The author analyzes the nature of superstition both in theory and in fact (on the basis of field work).