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Social representations and political thought

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Johanna M Lukate.

Tea and coffee will be served from 12.30 onwards at the Nick Macintosh Seminar Room for attendees only.

This talk addresses the question what social representations theory (SRT) can contribute to a social psychological analysis of political thought. I will argue that SRT provides the epistemological foundation of a theory of democratic thought that can be captured with three basic premises rooted in the analysis of everyday thinking as proposed by SRT : (1) People are no fools: What appears as “irrational” or “emotional” (e.g., contradictory or normatively incompatible attitudes) is often better viewed as outcomes of different sense-making strategies based on shared representations of social order; (2) People think through opposites because it helps them to understand and to define their own and other people’s place in society; and (3) People do not make up and express their opinions in a vacuum, but refer to what others think in doing so. Asymmetric intergroup relations give rise to structurally contingent representations on the basis of which people develop their own understanding of how society works (and should work). These broad principles will be illustrated with results from selected survey and experimental research on social representations of democracy, the welfare state and multiculturalism.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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