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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Theory of Social Representations studies formation and transformation of meanings, knowledge, beliefs, and actions of complex social phenomena like democracy, human rights, or mental illness, in and through communication and culture. This chapter examines the nature of interdependence between social representing, communication, and culture. It first explains differences between mental, collective, and social representations with respect to culture and language. It then focuses on two meanings of social representing: first, on representations as a theory of social knowledge and second, representations as social and cultural phenomena and as interventions in social practices. Rationality of social representations is based on diverse modalities of knowing and believing shared by groups and communities; it is derived from historically and culturally established common sense. This perspective justifies the claim that social representations should be treated as anthropology of contemporary culture. Finally, the chapter discusses main concepts linking social representations, language, and culture.

Keywords: two meanings of social representations, rationality of social representations, polyphasia in knowing, believing and communicating, figures, metaphors and myths, communicative and cultural themata

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