Collective Representations As a Metaconstruct: An Analysis Based on Methodological Relationalism

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Culture & Psychology, ISSN: 1354-067X, Vol: 4, Issue: 3, Page: 349-369

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HO, Yau Fai, David; CHIU, Chi Yue
SAGE Publications
Collective representations; Collectivism; Individual representations; Individualism; Metaconstruct; Methodological relationalism
article description
The authors discern an emerging paradigmatic shift in psychology: from methodological individualism to methodological relationalism, which asserts that social behavior invariably takes place in relational contexts, regardless of socioeconomic or cultural variations. Informed by methodological relationalism, we revisit the debate over collective representations, regarded as a metaconstruct designating collective representations as members of a class of constructs. This class may be restricted to constructs designating shared meanings and reality (e.g. knowledge, beliefs and values) among a collectivity of individuals. The article is then devoted to a clarification of what is meant by 'shared meanings and reality' and 'collectivity'. A study of two particular collective representations, individualism and collectivism, follows. We present a method for obtaining variant estimates of three variables: (a) collective sharing, (b) representations of generalized others, and (c) collective nonconformity. Having outlined a procedure for approximating collective representations through a summation of individual representations, we pose a challenge to methodological holists to be more explicit in delineating the emergent properties of collective representations.