Taken for Granted: The Remarkable Power of the Unremarkable

How the words we use—and don't use—reinforce dominant cultural norms


Mar 10, 2020
5.5 x 8.5 in.
7 b/w illus.
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Why is the term “openly gay” so widely used but “openly straight” is not? What are the unspoken assumptions behind terms like “male nurse,” “working mom,” and “white trash”? Taken for Granted exposes the subtly encoded ways we talk about topics like race, gender, sexuality, and social status, offering a provocative look at the word choices we make every day without even realizing it. Eviatar Zerubavel describes how the words we use provide telling clues about the things we take for granted. By marking “women’s history” or “Black History Month,” we are also reinforcing the apparent normality of the history of white men. Zerubavel shows how this tacit normalizing of certain identities, practices, and ideas helps to maintain their cultural dominance—and shape what we take for granted.

Ideas Podcast: Taken for Granted

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the Charles Horton Cooley Award, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
  • Winner of the Susanne K. Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Symbolic Form, Media Ecology Association