Howarth, Caroline, Foster, Juliet and Dorrer, Nike
Exploring the potential of the theory of social representations in community-based health research - and vice versa?
Journal of health psychology, 9
This article seeks to demonstrate the importance of developing a dialogue between social representations theory and community approaches to researching issues of health. We show how we have used the theory within our own research to ground our findings at the level of community. The article is divided into three sections: the recognition of competing systems of knowledge; the role of representations in maintaining stigmatizing practices; and the impact of representations on identities. Each section is illustrated with material drawn from Foster's research on mental illness and Dorrer's research on women's representations of healthy eating. We conclude by arguing that, while social representations theory is a valuable tool for community-based health research, the theory would benefit from developing a more participatory methodology.
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