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Human Development 1998;41:215–235
(DOI:10.1159/000022583)

Individual and Collective Representations in Social Context: A Modest Contribution to Resuming the Interrupted Project of a Sociocultural Developmental Psychology

Nicolopoulou, A. · Weintraub J.

Author affiliations

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., USA

Corresponding Author

Ageliki Nicolopoulou, Department of Psychology

Lehigh University, 17 Memorial Drive East

Bethlehem, PA 18015-3068 (USA)

Tel. +1 610 758 3618, Fax +1 610 758 6277

E-Mail agn3@lehigh.edu

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Abstract

This article suggests an approach to representation – simultaneously constructivist, sociocultural, and interpretive – that can address the complementary roles of culture and individual agency in development. The necessary starting point is to recognize, following Durkheim, that collective representations are an irreducible reality sui generis and play a constitutive role in the formation and structuring of individual representations. Development must be understood as a genuinely dialectical process that includes the active appropriation (not just passive absorption) of collective representations through various modes of socially structured symbolic action. This requires both distinguishing and grasping the interplay of three analytical levels: individual, relational or interactional, and collective. Piaget’s work is shown to offer an instructive case of how promising tendencies in this direction have become derailed. The authors also offer a concrete illustration of one line of research informed by the kind of theoretical approach advocated here.


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Article / Publication Details

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Published online: October 09, 1998

Number of Print Pages: 21
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ISSN: 0018-716X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0054 (Online)

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