Friday, July 30, 2010

Selective attention

This video caught my attention partly because it so clearly states its intention. I suppose it could be seen as a good example of getting public engagement in research using YouTube. But I was also interested in the whole phenomenon of ‘inattentional blindness’ or the idea that if you're not focusing attention on something you can hardly be said to perceive it. Not only did it remind me of Goffman’s idea of ‘civil inattention’ in which we notice but don’t stare (codified as politeness) but on a deeper level it made me think of the cultural scripts or ideologies which we are more often than not blind to. These implicit ideologies frame our view of the world; masquerading as common sense they are experienced as ‘the way things are’. Gramsci has a great way of describing these ideologies as ‘a product of the historical process...which has deposited in you an infinity of traces without leaving an inventory.’ (Gramsci, 1995:324). The work involved in seeing the gorilla is slight in comparison, but the underlying principle of focus, or should I say critical focus, seems to me to be analogous.

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