As defined in this blog, a theory is an idea, or set of ideas, that describe some kind of social phenomena. Theories can help us understand what is occurring in society and why. DuBois explains what occurs in society regarding race. He focused primarily on racial problems and discrimination in society. He distinguishes the social environment that blacks experienced from what whites experienced at the time. Though his theories and concepts may not be as influential as they were at the time when segregation was such a major part of daily life, they are still applicable today. In a society like ours, there will always be discrimination in regards to race in some form or another, and therefore DuBois’ theories and explanations will apply.
DuBois defines the concept Double Consciousness as looking at yourself through the eyes of others and measuring yourself through the eyes of society and social norms. He applies this to the experiences of African Americans and how they have two separate selves; the American and the African American. He explains that this is how African Americans are able to navigate society and discrimination. They do not choose this experience but are excluded by society and thus cannot be the same person in general society that they could be in their home, or among other African Americans, for example. DuBois goes on further, describing the Veil as the social distance between whites and blacks. He says that the veil is the mechanism that allows double consciousness to exist; that hides blacks and makes them outcasts to whites.
These explanations of the discrimination African Americans experienced, especially during that time period, are what make DuBois a theorist. This prejudice was socially constructed and still exists today, therefore creating a social conflict. DuBois applies these concepts and ideas of Double Consciousness and the Veil to explain this social phenomenon.