Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Social representations, alternative representations and semantic barriers

By Alex Gillespie


Social representations research has tended to focus upon the representations that groups have in relation to some object. The present article elaborates the concept of social representations by pointing to the existence of “alternative representations” as sub-components within social representations. Alternative representations are the ideas and images the group has about how other groups represent the given object. Alternative representations are thus representations of other people's representations. The present article uses data from Moscovici's (1976/2008) analysis of the diffusion of psychoanalysis to examine how people engage with alternative representations. It is demonstrated that there can be more or less dialogical relations with alternative representations. The analysis concludes by considering seven “semiotic barriers” which work to neutralise the dialogical potential of alternative representations, thus on the one hand enabling groups to talk about the views of others, while, on the other hand, remaining unchallenged by those views

Topics: BF Psychology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1468-5914.2008.00376.x
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (2005). A review of controversies about social representations theory: A British debate. doi
  2. (2006). Becoming other: From social interaction to self-reflection. doi
  3. (2003). Dialogicality and social representations: The dynamics of mind. Cambridge:
  4. (1973). Foreword in C. Herzlich, Health and illness: A social psychological analysis.
  5. (1998). From collective to social representations: Aller et retour. doi
  6. (1966). Interpersonal perception: A theory and method of research. doi
  7. (2007). Knowledge in context. Cambridge, UK:
  8. (2008). Psychoanalysis: Its image and its public. doi
  9. (2003). Representational projects and interacting forms of knowledge. doi
  10. (1898). Representations individuelles et representations collectives. doi
  11. (2005). Scaffolding within the structure of Dialogical Self: Hierarchical dynamics of semiotic mediation. doi
  12. (1994). Social representations and pragmatic communication. doi
  13. (1995). Social representations in and of the public sphere: Towards a theoretical articulation. doi
  14. (1998). Solidarity and difference: The politics of enlightenment in the aftermath of modernity.
  15. (1984). Studies in ethnomethodology. doi
  16. (1993). Studying the thinking society: Social representations, rhetoric, and attitudes.
  17. (1980). Text and context. doi
  18. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: doi
  19. (1999). The modernization of tradition: thinking about madness doi
  20. (1989). The structural transformation of the public sphere. doi
  21. (1972). Theory and society in social psychology. In doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.