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September 2015 Vol. 53 No. 1

Oxford University Press

The following review appeared in the September 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences

Zerubavel, Eviatar. Hidden in plain sight: the social structure of irrelevance. Oxford, 2015. 199p bibl indexes afp ISBN 9780199366606, $99.00; ISBN 9780199366613 pbk, $24.95.

Zerubavel's aim is to offer a perspective he claims is missing in the research on attention—social attention.  Zerubavel (sociology, Rutgers) synthesizes a great deal of work on attention and connects the work to numerous examples from everyday life.  The book is more likely to appeal to those looking for a quick, insightful discussion of how social science and cognitive science might connect on the topic of attention, but it is unlikely to satisfy those looking for a complete account of social attention.  That it does not supply.  What it does provide by way of an account—he calls it “collective attention” and a “shared sense of relevance”—seems roughly equivalent to joint attention, the substantial research on which is neither mentioned nor cited.  This form of attention risks being reducible to the attention of cognitive science, as it is simply the sum of individuals attending.  If so reducible, the study of social attention seems unlikely to provide insight on attention itself, rather than its objects.  Overall, this is a well-written and thought-provoking book likely to entertain and inspire curious lay readers.

--C. Jennings, Univ. of California, Merced

Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.