The Roots of Denial: How threats to conservative white male social identity proliferate the denial countermovements seen in response to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abhishek Gupta



This thesis explores the basis of the creation and proliferation of socially organized attitudes of denial and counterculture denial movements. I achieve this by reviewing sociological literature on denial, culture, and the construction of identity and then analyzing my findings through an intersectional lens. From my review, I theorize that these attitudes are created by efforts to validate a group’s unconscious cultural rejection to threats to their identity and that it is this response that allows for disinformation and ignorance to be perpetuated. I evaluate my conclusions by utilizing an intersectional approach to evaluate the threat that the existential crises of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic pose to the identity of conservative white males and explore the deleterious effects their denial has on perpetuating systems of oppression amongst less privileged communities. I argue that such findings demonstrate an immediate need for future work to actively address social denial in more targeted and culturally oriented ways; particularly concerning conservative white male identity. I summarize a recent study method utilizing big data analytics as a potential path to achieving this and conclude by emphasizing the need for intersectional approaches to evaluate social denial and the responsibilities we have as individuals to evaluate our own role in perpetuating this phenomenon.