A method to extract social representations from linguistic corpora.
Japanese journal of experimental social psychology., 35
A new method is presented, which enables extracting the pattern of social representations of an object from corpora in natural language "about" this object.
Interrogation of a source of common knowledge (a representative sample of a population, a dictionary, a set of articles or books), yields a corpus of linguistic statements concerning the object. In the case of individuals, an open question on free association (What comes comes to your mind about...?). In the case of dictionaries, the set of all definitions of synonyms and analogues of the word in question is used.
The corpus is then processed with a software that breaks up the corpus into statements (e. g. : sentences), and then makes a classification of those statements, on the basis of co-occurrence of lexical traits. Each class is considered as a basic nucleus of the representation, characterised by typical lexical traits. Multivariate analysis enables to represent the relationship of those nuclei and traits in a semantic space of connotations.
Demonstration of the method is presented on two corpuses about "eating", (1) coming from a survey using the free association technique on a 2000 sample representative of the French population, (2) 544 definitions of synonyms and analogues of "to eat" from a large dictionary. Results are quite similar on both corpuses ; they yield a very clear model of the social representation of "eating", which is coherent with the findings by qualitative methods in the literature.
The paper is based on a presentation at the 2nd International Conference on Social representations. Rio de janeiro, 1994. It can be downloaded on open access from the publisher's website.
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