How social representations of attitudes have informed attitude theories: the consensual and the reified.
Theory and Psychology, 16
In this paper I discuss the importance of examining the impact of our common-sense making on the development of academic psychological constructs. In the process, I shall review the history of social psychology in understanding differences and similarities in the ways in which attitudes and social representations have been theorized. After a concise review of each of these two concepts, I examine the points of connection and tension between them, with particular reference to the dialectic of the social and the psychological. This highlights the influence of dominant constructions of the individual within the discipline of social psychology itself and on recent research in attitude theory in particular. The paper discusses how social psychologists have used, have been constrained by, and have developed particular social representations of the individual and of ‘attitudes’ themselves in the reified realm of academic psychology. By way of a conclusion, the example of racism is drawn on to reveal the conceptual and political consequences of theorizing either racist attitudes or racializing representations.
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