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Social representations theory: a progressive research programme for social psychology

Bauer, Martin W. and Gaskell, George (2008) Social representations theory: a progressive research programme for social psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 38 (4). pp. 335-353. ISSN 0021-8308

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-5914.2008.00374.x


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 (comparative and longitudinal; qualitative and quantitative). 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?

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
Divisions: Methodology
Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2009 17:54
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 19:45

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