Moscovici, S. The phenomenon of social representations. In R. M. Farr & S. Moscovici (eds.) Social Representations, 1984.

Social psychology postulates that:
1. normal individuals react to phenomenon like scientists do
2. understanding consists in information processing

Yet we are often unaware of things before our eyes. Some of our peceptions are illusions. We also make similar conclusions of reality based on our social information. Our reality is based on social representations. Perceiving representations is as important as perceiving objects. All objects have included a social representation.

The last thing viewed is only part of chain of perceptions, opinions, and notions.

Social representations conventionalize objects, persons, and events we encounter. Even new things are categorized into some represenation. Each experience is added to a reality predetermined by conventions. Lewin stated that "Reality for the individual is , to a high degree, determined by what is socially accepted as reality".

Representations are also prescriptive based on the collectivity of past social conventions. Changing the definition of words can change our collective thoughts. Asch said that social interactions are happenings... psycholically represented in each of the participants". Individuals and groups create representations in the course of communication and co-operation. Representations are born, change, and change other representations.

The task of social psychology is to study these representations.

What is a thinking society? The origins and development of social thought depend on social intercourse. Groups and individuals are always under the sway of a dominant ideology imposed by their social class. Individuals and groups "think for themselves", creating spontaneous ideologys with each new stimuli.

Social representations should be seen as a specific way of understanding and communicating what we know already. They are connectors between image and meaning. In society there is a continual need to reconstitute "common sense" that makes sense of images and meaning.

Before reality was two parts -- sacred and profane. Now it is consensual and reified. A consensual society is seen as a free group of individuals who put forth opinions and shape society. In a refied universe society is a system of different roles and classes with unequal members separated by competence. In the sciences we understand the reified, and social representations the consensual.

"The use of a language of images and of words that have become common property through the diffusion of reported ideas enlivens and fertilizes those aspects of society and nature with which we are here concerned".

Social representations are the "environment" in relation to the individual or group, and are specific to our society.

The actuality of something absent, the "not quite rightness" of an object, are what characterize unfamiliarity. Representations help make the unfamiliar familiar. Social thinking owes more to convention and memory than to reason. Our tendency is to confirm what is familiar. One anchors the unfamiliar in the current conventions of reality. Objects are threatening until named.

"To categorize someone or something amounts to chooseing a paradigm form those stored in our memory and establishing a positive or negative relation with it".

Anchoring is taking something foreign and compares it to a pradigm that might be suitable. The ideas, images and language seem to dicate the initial direction of understanding of the unfamiliar.

When we compare unfamiliar things to a prototype, we notice those things most representative of the prototype. Naming something locates the object in an identity matrix. Naming something give it certain characteristics and tendencies. Classifying and naming anchor representations.

The main object of representations is to help interpretation, understanding, and opinion formation.

Representations also give a sense of reality to images. We objectify everything.