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Social Representation Theory is a body of theory within social psychology originally coined by Serge Moscovici. It is similar in some ways to mass consensus, and is inter-related with both discourse analysis and discursive psychologyand social constructionism.
Moscovici described social representation as:
“systems of values, ideas and practices with a two-fold function; first, to establish an order which will enable individuals to orientate themselves in their material and social world and to master it; secondly, to enable communication to take place amongst members of a community by providing them with a code for social exchange and a code for naming and classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history” (Moscovici, 1973)
Meaning therefore is created through a system of social negotiation rather than being a fixed reality, and its interpretation may well require an wider contextual understanding.
Social representation theory is popular among European social psychologists, especially those on the continent. Because much of Moscovici's work has been published in French, social representations theory is less known in the United States.
- Di Giacomo, J.P. (1980) Intergroup alliances and rejections within a protest movement (analysis of the social representations), European Journal of Social Psychology 10: 329-44.
- Doise, W. (1984) Social representations, inter-group experiments and levels of analysis. In: R.M. Farr and S. Moscovici (eds) Social Representations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Hayes, N.J. (1991) Social identity, social representations and organisational culture. Unpublished Ph.D.
- Jodelet, D. (1984) The representation of the body and its transformations. In: R.M. Farr and S. Moscovici (eds) Social Representations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Moscovici, S. (1988). Notes towards a description of social representations. Journal of European Social Psychology 18: 211-250;.