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Social Representation Theory - Essay Example

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This essay seeks to familiarize the reader with an important contribution to social psychology; the social representations theory. It applies to a broad range of concrete situations and provides people with insights into their modern lives. The essay highlights the contribution of the above mentioned theory to social psychology…
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Social Representation Theory
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Social Representation Theory

Download file to see previous pages... Its uses include in the democratization of developing countries and in areas such as health and medicine.
"Social theory refers to the use of theoretical frameworks to explain and analyze social action, social meanings and large-scale social structures. The field is interdisciplinary, drawing ideas from and contributing to such disciplines as anthropology, economics, history, literary theory, philosophy, sociology, and theology. Some social theories make philosophical attempts to answer the question 'what is', not 'what should be'. Other "critical" social theories, such as neo Marxist theories and feminist theories, argue that as theories are generally based on premises that entail normative positions, it is necessary to critique the ideological aspects of theories and related oppressive social relations."6
There are various social theories. Some belong to the Marxists' eras, others are concerned with postmodernism. Some are concerned with human activity while others have cognition as their core concept. However, all of them are concerned with the social aspect of life. How human beings interact with one another and the society They answer questions such as Why How And When
In order for groups and individuals to relate to one another, a system of common understanding is needed. Thereby there must be terms and concepts peculiar to that group and not within common understanding. They have thus become words with specific meaning for certain groups. The social representation theory is described as:
"Systems of values, ideas and practices with a two-fold function; first, to establish an order which will enable individuals to orientate themselves in their material and social world and to master it; secondly, to enable communication to take place amongst members of a community by providing them with a code for social exchange and a code for naming and classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history" 1

Its meaning is thereby not fixed or rigid. It is created through a series of social negotiation and an understanding of the social environment. Hence it is based on social perspectives and perceptions which may vary .9
It is difficult to define social representation because of its breadth in theory which cannot be captures in words. However, as written above certain sound definitions exist. One of these is also one by Jodelet(1991) which says that social representations are images which allow people to perceive and understand what is going on around them it permits a classification of scenarios, people and phenomena into various heads in order to establish facts about them. Therefore social representations are all above together embedded in the reality of our lives.2
From what is described in the definition of the theory by Jodelet we can see that representations are something that can be used for acting in the world and on others. In addition to this it can also be used for re-enacting, re-forming a view of the world which stands in conflict with our values, beliefs and sense of self-identity.
Social representations are what we do in order to understand the world we live in and in doing so the social representations are converted into a social reality for ourselves and others. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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