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About this book

The Anthropocene has become a field of studies in which the influence of human activity on the Earth System and nature is both the main threat and the potential solution. Social Representations Theory has been evolving since the 1960s.It links knowledge and practice in everyday life and is an effective way to deal with systemic crises based on common sense. This book assembles key contributions by Latin American scholars working with social representations in the social sciences that are of conceptual relevance to the study of the Anthropocene and that investigate the societal consequences of complex interrelations between common sense and topics of global relevance, such asthe contradictions of sustainable development, the construction of risks beyond risk-perception, health, negotiation and governance in the field of education, gender equality, the usefulness of longitudinal and systemic ethnography and case studies, and agency and the link between inequality, crises and risk society in the context of COVID-19, presenting theoretical and methodological innovations fromSpanish, Portuguese and Frenchresearchthat have rarely been available in English.
• This is the first book to address the relevance of Social Representations Theory for the Anthropocene as a societal era• It presents the multidisciplinary scope of Social Representations• This book covers emerging research contributions in Social Representations Theory from Latin America• This book presents innovative research and commentaries by established researchers in the field• This multidisciplinary book should be in the libraries of many disciplines in the social sciences and humanities

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Building a Sand String: Social Representations for the Anthropocene

In this chapter, we present the main objectives and contents of this book, and the theoretical discussion bridging Social Representations Theory and the Anthropocene as societal era, introducing some of the main research groups and emerging scholars in Latin America. This first volume centres on Brazilian contributions, since they are the oldest and most visible in the continent, although there are also works from Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. The structure of the chapter is as follows: following the ‘Building a Sand String’ opening quote, we present the objective of the book and a brief outline of the regional research groups represented in this text. The second section discusses the common sense relationship between the Anthropocene as a societal era and social representations. The last sections detail the structure and contents of each chapter of the book.
Serena Eréndira Serrano Oswald, Clarilza Prado de Sousa

Chapter 2. Social Representations and History: Theoretical Problems

Addressing the relationship between social representations and history, this chapter discusses the idea of representation as both affirmation and negation of historiographic discourse, based on what have been called the ‘modern’ and ‘postmodern’ historiographic conditions. It begins by discussing how memory has become an epistemological object within the discipline of history. It thus offers reflections on the relationship between history and memory, understood as two forms of managing the past, while exploring their implications for social representations theory. Building upon some considerations of a current in historiography called ‘history of the present time’, the chapter presents the concepts of ‘regime of historicity’ and ‘presentism’, developed in particular by François Hartog and Reinhart Koselleck, and discusses some of the challenges they present in relation to current processes surrounding the intelligibility of memory. Finally, it emphasizes that the possibility of developing common ground between history and Social Representations Theory depends on building a post-disciplinary and epistemo-political agenda.
Lúcia Villas Bôas

Chapter 3. Social Representations in the Study of Disaster Risk in the Municipality of Piedecuesta, Santander (Colombia): The Social Cognitive Dimension

This study has been developed around the characterization of the processes of the social construction of risk and the daily relationship “to know-to do”. It presents part of the final results of the research titled: “Social constructions of disaster risk from social representations in the municipality of Piedecuesta, Santander (Colombia)”. Social representations (SR) of the Piedecuestana population have been analysed in the development of three dimensions: Social Cognitive, Social Structural and Social Territorial. The document has been structured in six sections: introduction, theoretical-conceptual review, the methodology and sample of the study, the presentation of results, analytical categories, and final conclusions.
Deysi Ofelmina Jerez-Ramírez

Chapter 4. Confluences between Social Representations Theory and the Psychology of Active Minorities

This chapter presents the state of studies, research and publications on social representations in Brazil, and especially in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. In order to do this, three objectives are pursued: presenting the research groups and the production areas in social representations in the country; discussing the work that has been taking place in the south of Brazil, especially in social representations, active minorities and politics; and delineating the perspectives and challenges of research into social representations in the country. Qualitative methodology was used, through an exploratory bibliographical, descriptive and interpretative study. First the output of research groups registered in the Directory of Research Groups and Lattes Platform of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) is presented in order to highlight some descriptive statistics and map the scenario of the groups and production areas in the country. Subsequently, an analysis is made of the relationship between Social Representations Theory and the Psychology of Active Minorities, two fundamental theoretical proposals in Moscovici’s work (a relationship which is still little explored in Brazil) in order to deepen the epistemological discussion about social representations and their importance in sociological social psychology. Finally, the commitments that are made, the possible horizons, and the challenges that must be faced by social representations researchers in Brazil are discussed.
Aline Reis Calvo Hernandez

Chapter 5. Relationships between Beliefs and Social Representations: A Brief Theoretical Reflection

It is common in studies regarding social representations to think of beliefs as a class of elements which exist in representational contents of the most diverse objects. This chapter will provide, in an abridged form, Moscovici’s conceptual ideas regarding the relationship between beliefs and representations. The next part presents two different theoretical perspectives that encompass that relationship. The conclusion suggests avenues to be explored in the context of the development of Social Representations Theory in Latin America.
Renata Lira dos Santos Aléssio

Chapter 6. Social Representations of Justice as Developing Structures: Sociogenesis and Ontogenesis

Social injustice has been present in Argentina, as in other Latin American countries. Retributive justice has become a daily matter of debate since the fear of crime and the degradation of political and social participation have led to the weakening of social bonds and fractures in the sense of community. Reflections and discussions on diverse – even opposite – ways to understand and promote justice have a long tradition in social sciences that can be traced to Ancient Greece. The justice-injustice opposition could be considered a theme that permeates the entire history of Western culture (Marková 2000), leading, within the same society, to the coexistence of different ways of understanding justice based on different ideological groundings (Campbell 2001). Social representations (henceforth SR) are the product of everyday exchanges and are constructed as a way to understand social objects that challenge the cultural available meanings and require a symbolic coping process. The ontogenesis of SR is the process through which individuals reconstruct SR while appropriating them and, in so doing, develop diverse social identities (Duveen/Lloyd 1990). This chapter presents a set of studies aimed at understanding the sociogenesis and ontogenesis of SR of justice, as well as the relationship between the two processes.
Alicia Barreiro

Chapter 7. Common Sense in Gramsci’s and Moscovici’s Writings: Inspiration, Subversion and Revolution in Sociopolitical and Scientific Fields

The article entitled Common sense in Gramsci’s and Moscovici’s writings: inspiration, subversion and revolution in sociopolitical and scientific fields represents part of the results of theoretical investigations undertaken for my doctoral thesis, which also had the objectives of investigating convergences between Gramsci’s and Moscovici’s theories and trying to articulate, through these convergences, an educational proposal for praxis in order to help train people to become proactive, politically-minded members of their community who take action to improve living conditions for all. I undertook theoretical research using both authors’ key books on the development of the theory, such as The Prison Notebooks (Gramsci 1975) and Psychoanalysis: its Image and its Public (Moscovici 1979), besides other sources by scholars who have studied the work of these authors. The methodological path I followed had approximations to paradigms that use change and historicity as guiding elements; therefore, I sought support from critical theory and the Gramscian philosophy of praxis to back up my data analysis. Results suggest that the main theoretical convergence between the authors is related to their approach to common sense, from which emerged subcategories that gave better visibility to such approximations between them. In this chapter I highlight the fecundity of the studies carried out so far and indicate that there is much more to be explored and deepened.
Suzzana Alice Lima Almeida

Chapter 8. Diffusion, Propaganda and Propagation: The Actuality of the Construct

Throughout his work, Moscovici gave a preponderant role to social communication. Communication has a fundamental role in the maintenance and dissemination of social representations. Moscovici (1961, 2012) characterizes communication systems, or as Vala (2010) calls it, a typology of communicative acts of social representations: diffusion, propagation and advertising. Five decades after the seminal work of Serge Moscovici was released, we have an exciting theoretical legacy. However, the legacy left by the author in relation to the role of communication in the process of disseminating social representations and, above all, communication systems has been neglected over the years. This chapter seeks to discuss the actuality of social communication and its three core constructs: diffusion, propaganda and propagation.
Claudomilson Fernandes Braga

Chapter 9. The Figurative Core of Social Representations and Figures of Thought

This paper proposes reflections on the ‘figurative core’ of social representation by highlighting the roles of figures of thought. The starting point is the expression ‘figurative model’ in the seminal work of Serge Moscovici, Psychoanalysis: Its Image and Its Public, and later theoretical proposals of the ‘core’, such as Jean Claude Abric’s Central Core Theory and, more recently, Pascal Moliner’s Matrix Nucleus Theory. The notion of ‘image’ runs through these reflections. Starting from these referential concepts, Tarso Mazzotti’s studies on the relationship between ‘figurative core’ and figures of thought are prioritized, especially when the author proposes an ‘argumentative core’ for analysing speeches. An example of some research in which analysis uses rhetorical devices is presented. Overall, the work highlights the presence of a core in social representations which approximates to the approach of rhetorical social representations, and seeks ways to both identify and analyse it.
Rita de Cássia Pereira Lima

Chapter 10. “The Tradition Must Carry On”: Representations and Social Practices of Gender and Ethnicity among Members of a Gypsy Group in a Brazilian Region

This study investigates the representations and social practices related to ethnic and gender identities among members of a gypsy community in a Brazilian territory. The analysis was conducted in the light of the theoretical-conceptual contribution of Social Representations Theory.
Mariana Bonomo, Sabrine Mantuan dos Santos Coutinho

Chapter 11. The Gendered Medicalized Body, Social Representations, and Symbolic Violence: Experiences of Brazilian Women with Artificial Contraceptive Methods

In this chapter, I want to present two theoretical approaches that can shed light on the phenomenon of the medicalization of women’s bodies – Social Representations Theory (Moscovici 1961) and Social Dominance Theory (Sidanius/Pratto: 2012). Two key hypotheses sustain this reflection: (a) different kinds of social representations interfere in the decision-making process regarding contraceptive use; and (b) social dominance benefits from hegemonic social representations of masculinity and femininity when the legitimized beauty myth serves as a tool used by medical professionals to dominate women and limit their sexual and reproductive autonomy. The reflections on medicalization are underpinned by the experiences of Brazilian women regarding contraceptive methods.
Adriane Roso

Chapter 12. Social Representations Theory in the Field of Nursing: Professional Autonomy, Vulnerability and Spirituality/Religiosity as Representational Objects

‘Social representations’ is a polysemic term with specific interpretations in the context of different knowledge fields, which tends to make the situation of first contact even more complex. In Brazil, the theory has been intensively used in areas such as health and education in order to aid understanding of their main objects of study, and also with a view to supporting interventions in different areas of practice. In health, nursing has gained prominence over the last few decades, given the amount of production in the area and the involvement of a large number of researchers in its study and application. From the explanation of this scenario follows the approach of three representational objects that mark, at different moments, the trajectory of a researcher in the context of the postgraduate programme in nursing at the State University of Rio de Janeiro in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Antonio Marcos Tosoli Gomes

Chapter 13. Children, Multiple Ordinations of Reality and Social Representations: Dialogues from Lévy-Bruhl

This chapter begins addressing a question posed by Jovchelovitch – Is the knowledge of a child a primitive form of the knowledge of an adult? It does so in order to propose a dialogue between Lévy-Bruhl and Moscovici on multiple orders of reality and on the concept of cognitive polyphasia. This approach is presented as an argument that approaches different rationalities in the analysis of children’s logic and the coexistence of knowledge. The thesis of the discontinuity of the mind and the relations of participation contributes to reduce the boundary between scientific thinking and alternative rationalities. The text is based on the notion of scientific visibility of children’s ability to think in social representational research contexts, privileging children as subjects of social representations.
Daniela B.S. Freire Andrade

Chapter 14. The Contribution of Social Representations Theory to Science Education

In the context of the discussion to be developed in this chapter around the theme “The contribution of Social Representations Theory to science education”, it is necessary to define the parameters of the approach. In the case of this chapter, I initially intend to contextualize in the current scenario of science education in Brazil the various assessment systems, and I am focusing on the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) evaluation in science. Then, the contribution of Social Representations Theory to science education will be discussed, in respect of knowledge, science and schools. Finally, some research results will be presented on the projects developed by the research group Education in Sciences and Social Representations (EDUCIRS), in the Science, Technology and Education Postgraduate Programme (PPCTE) of the Federal Center for Technological Education Celso Suckow da Fonseca (CEFET), Rio de Janeiro, and in the final considerations there will be a reflection on future developments in the interface of investigation between scientific education and social representations.
Alcina Maria Testa Braz da Silva

Chapter 15. Possible Dialogues Between Social Representations and Educational Policies: The Dilemma of Data Analysis

Based on Social Representations Theory (SRT) and educational policies, I aim to demonstrate the fertility of SRT for the analysis of policy texts and how these anchor the representations of teachers and undergraduate students on school and on being a teacher. I adopted a combined qualitative, theoretical-bibliographic and exploratory interpretative approach to support the present study, which yielded reflections that indicate ways to analyse texts about teaching policies through the lens of SRT. From this perspective, I present my attempt to explain the contribution of SRT to the analysis of these texts, since I presume the SR of the teachers on educational policies to be one of the macro-regulators of their craft which allows them to give meaning, signification and resignification to carry out these policies, because they are intrinsically related to ideas, representations, translations and simulacra situated according to the historical, political and economic moment in which the institution and its actors are inscribed.
Romilda Teodora Ens

Chapter 16. Social Representations of Violence among Public School Students

Violence is a social phenomenon, for it exists in specific contexts and is effected in relationships with others, due to socio-economic, political and cultural factors. This study, of a quantitative, qualitative and descriptive nature, aimed to investigate the social representations of violence among 349 students from Florianópolis, Brazil, through a self-administered questionnaire. The participants’ average age was 16 years and 3 months old. It was found that violence is part of the students’ everyday life. Their elaboration and dissemination of social representations of violence focused on three main aspects: physical violence; verbal violence; and internal causes (perpetrator characteristics) and external causes (social inequality, drugs, and games) of violence. It is important to know the social representations of violence and their associated factors in the context of adolescents’ daily lives in order to contribute to preventive works and to promote a culture of peace in schools.
Andréia Isabel Giacomozzi, Amanda Castro, Andrea Barbará da Silva Bousfield, Priscila Pereira Nunes, Marlon Xavier

Chapter 17. Quality School Education from the Perspective of Young Students: What Is the Future?

This article is the result of an information-centric survey of 227 pre-adolescents – thirteen to fourteen years old – from elementary school. Its objective is to reflect on the teaching of these young people, whose different faculties, potentials and skills equip them to be part of the decision-making process about teaching methods. The discussion is supported by Social Representations Theory because it reflects the interdisciplinary potential, combining students, teachers and managers in a one-dimensional perspective. For this purpose, it is a precondition to involve these educators in the process of continuing training, making them active researchers of the educational phenomenon, capable of improving daily practice by means of scientific methods. The methodology is defined by the application of questionnaires to focus groups in order to reveal their opinions about the daily routine at school. The results indicate that Quality in School Education is associated with respect and trust between students and educators, activities that make students feel valued, and the participation of students in processes which affect the school dynamics. There is also evidence that substantiates the view that Quality in School Education is based on a fictional social space, a school which does not actually exist. In this sense, Quality is designed for an imaginative future far removed from the present situation in which the students find themselves.
Sandra Lúcia Ferreira

Chapter 18. Social Representations in Motion: Concept Construction on Changing Subjects and Contexts

This text presents the construction process and first delimitations of the concept of social representations in motion (SRM), formulated from the work of the Social Representations Study Group (GERES – Federal University of Minas Gerais). GERES is organized by professionals with different fields of knowledge who work in educational contexts. The group is interested in the way in which social representations, as part of the production of knowledge, are constructed by subjects who are experiencing situations that demand changes to their ways of thinking, feeling and acting. According to Moscovici, social representations are created to make the unfamiliar familiar. We realised that there is the possibility of change – and a limit to the extent of change – in the representational universe of the subject when facing the unfamiliar. In the face of what is ‘strange’, subjects tend to have one of three reactions, or ‘motions’: (a) refusing to experience the new, rejecting the opportunity to change and strengthening knowledge that is already instituted; (b) fully adhering to what is strange, breaking with the past; or (c) initiating a process of familiar re-elaboration, integrating novelty progressively. Between 2004 and 2020 we conducted nineteen studies, including dissertations, theses, postdoctoral reports and professional research developed under the coordination of Maria Isabel Antunes-Rocha. All the works contributed in some way to the construction of the concept of RSM. To build the concept of social representations in motion, we elaborated its conceptual, analytical and methodological contours. The results of this research answered our questions about why we create representations.
Cristiene Adriana Silva Carvalho, Luiz Paulo Ribeiro

Chapter 19. Social Representations: A Bet on Social Change

This chapter shows exactly what we would like to highlight as a working model of present and future psycho-social perspectives for Latin America in the Anthropocene based on social representations. It is the result of shared reflections between two researchers from different generations and national contexts regarding the potential of Social Representations Theory to promote ethico-political change.
Mireya Lozada, Adelina Novaes


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