Social Representations Theory: A Progressive Research Programme for Social Psychology

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 38 (4):335-353 (2008)
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Abstract

The study “Psychoanalysis—its image and its public” intimates that common sense is increasingly informed by science. But common sense asserts its autonomy and, in turn, may affect the trajectory of science. This is a process that leads to many differentiations—in common sense, in scientific innovation and in political and regulatory structures. Bauer and Gaskell's toblerone model of triangles of mediation provided a distillation of their reading of “La Psychanalyse.” Here it was argued that representations are multi-modal phenomena necessitating the use of multiple methodologies .In this paper we briefly summarise these arguments and elaborate ways in which social representation theory can be considered a progressive research programme. “Progressive” because as the theory has developed it has extended the range and depth of its conceptual basis; it provides a new synthesis for the social scientific understanding of the phenomena of common sense and of representation; it acts as an antidote to the reductionism of public opinion and, finally, it is a stimulus to depart from disciplinary silos. However, there remain unresolved issues: how to segment the relevant social milieus and how to close the feedback loop from common sense to science?

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