Social representations are lay conceptions of complex phenomena that are important, relevant, and attention grabbing for society as a whole or for specific groups or communities within society. Examples of these phenomena include addiction, AIDS, climate change, intelligence, gender differences, and role of genes in people's character. Because these are important phenomena, they have sophisticated, technical, scientific explanations. However, we are not all trained biochemists, psychologists, sociologists, climatologists, and so forth, and yet we still have a desperate need to understand and communicate about these phenomena. Social representations fill this need. The study of social representations is the study of how everyday explanations arise and are sustained in society.


According to the social psychologist Willem Doise, the theory of social representations is a general approach to ...

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