Social invisibility occurs when, to a material degree, the social network that would ordinarily bind a group to the larger society is inadvertently or intentionally pruned, ultimately leaving the subgroup as a social “island”. The social influence of a group subject to invisibility is diminished, much like the position of untouchables in a caste society.
Social invisibility also refers to individuals who have been marginalized and are systematically overlooked by the wider public and in effect made as if invisible. It can include homeless people, the elderly, minorities, migrant workers, or anyone who experiences a sense of exclusion from society as a whole.
Social invisibility is the subjective experience of being unseen by others in a social environment. A sense of disconnectedness from the surrounding world is often experienced by invisible people. This disconnectedness can lead to absorbed coping and breakdowns, based on the asymmetrical relationship between someone made invisible and others.
Among African American men, invisibility can often take the form of a psychological process which both deals with the stress of racialized invisibility, and the choices made in becoming visible within a social framework that predetermines these choices. In order to become visible and gain acceptance, an African American man has to avoid adopting behavior that made him invisible in the first place, which intensifies the stress already brought on through racism.
- Brooks, Katie; van Gelderen, Tamar. “Fighting Invisibility: the Recognition of Migrant Domestic Workers in the Netherlands”. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- Social Invisibility as Social Breakdown: Insights from a Phenomenology of Self, World, and Other. Stanford University. 2007.
Franklin, Anderson; Boyd-Franklin, Nancy (2000). “Invisibility Syndrome: A Clinical Model of the Effects of Racism on African-American Males” (PDF). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.