Social Representation

Shortly speaking, social representations are about processes of collective meaning-making resulting in common cognitions which produce social bonds uniting societies, organisations and groups. It sets focus on phenomena that becomes subjected to debate, strong feelings, conflicts and ideological struggle, and changes the collective thinking in society. As a theory of communication it links society and individual, media and public. The theory speci­fies a number of communicative mechanisms explaining how ideas are communicated and transformed into what is perceived of as common sense.

Moscovici argues that a social representation is a system of values, ideas and practices with a twofold function: first, to establish an order which will enable individuals to orientate themselves in their material and social world and to master it; and secondly to enable communication to take place among 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 group his­tory. (Moscovici 1973: xiii)

The concept of social representation has been discussed and applied in many disciplines, one of them is neuropsychology. This approach redirects us more into the formation of images as social cognitive processes. It explains how we get from cognition to action and how we construct our belief starting from attitudes (as a construction of social objects) to opinions (evaluation of social object), ending in ideas strong implemented in our mind.

The application of this concept in our case is very important because it shows us how the values of a society can be changed by a totalitarian political regime and how avoiding the normal act of social imitation (in Gabriel Tarde’s point of view) can lead to a disconnection in social discourse and can create anxiety among population.

This also can help us reconstruct the image of communism represented in people minds in the communist countries, the impact of architecture on society and in the construction of power relation. The concept will be applied in the analyses of our interviews and the impact of architecture on people.

Moscovici, S. (1973)  Health and Illness. A Social Psychological Analysis. London: Academic Press

Tarde, G. (1903) The laws of imitation, New York: H.Holt and Company

Eduard Claudiu Vasile


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