Social occultation occurs when a particular set of cultural values and beliefs combine with the operation of personal and mass media communication functions leads to lacunae, or blind spots.
Intentional social occultation is the process of creating social invisibility while not completely denying the reality of a social circumstance, issue, or problem. Social occultation is a dynamic of social constructionism. For example, the recent abuses by the USA military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were made highly visible and resulted in shock and outrage in the USA. In contrast, the daily practices of humiliation and abuse in some prison settings in the USA get almost no public attention.
In various circumstances, certain social sub-groups and situations may have attention deflected away; this deflection may be institutionalized in media bias.
As a dynamic of political or social intolerance, when segregation is not possible or desirable, social occultation may be found in individual behaviors and in organizational policies.Outgroups have frequently sought visibility as a vehicle to address issues of concern. For example, in 2004-2005 the incidence of violence to transgender people in Washington DC was a case where members of the outgroup considered public attention to be lacking.
Incidental neglect of an issue differs from deliberate posturing[how?] (a subversive process) to systematically ignore (in whole or part) the issue as a matter of political or social preference.