A social representation is not a quiet thing: exploring the critical potential of social representations theory.
British journal of social psychology, 45
Following Moscovici (1972), this paper addresses the questions: What is the aim of research within a social representations perspective? Is it to support or to criticize the social order? Is it to consolidate or transform it? After a brief overview of social representations theory, I argue that while the theory appears to have the conceptual tools to begin this critical task, there are serious criticisms and points of underdevelopment that need addressing. In order for social representations theory to develop into a rigorously critical theory there are three controversial issues that require clarification. These are (a) the relationship between psychological processes and social practices, (b) the reification and legitimization of different knowledge systems, and (c) agency and resistance in the co-construction of self-identity. After discussing each issue in turn, with illustrations from research on racializing representations, I conclude the paper with a discussion of the role of representations in the ideological construction and contestation of reality.
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