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Using social representations theory to examine lay explanation of contemporary social crises: The case of Ireland's recession

O'Connor, C; (2012) Using social representations theory to examine lay explanation of contemporary social crises: The case of Ireland's recession. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology , 22 (6) 453 - 469. 10.1002/casp.1125. Green open access

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Abstract

Social actors operate under a basic imperative to construct explanations for the events that surround them. Many issues that dominate the societal agenda today are not available to direct perception, derive from traditionally expert domains and are relatively remote from immediate local experience. This presents a challenge for lay explanation of these issues. Social representations theory offers a useful framework through which the construction of lay explanation for such issues can be examined. The current study recruited this theoretical framework to investigate lay explanations of the recent economic recession in Ireland. Data consisted of semi-structured interviews with 14 members of the public and a web-based survey (N = 138). The data suggested that explanations for the recession could be organised into three major themes: Power, Ordinary People and Fatalism. Strictly economic explanations were eschewed; instead, people drew upon a wide range of ideas about society, politics, morality, public spheres and personhood. The implications of these findings for understanding lay explanation of contemporary social crises are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Using social representations theory to examine lay explanation of contemporary social crises: The case of Ireland's recession
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/casp.1125
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/casp.1125
Additional information: © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Full text made available to UCL Discovery by kind permission of Wiley.
Keywords: blame; economic thought; fatalism; Ireland; lay explanation; power; recession; risk society; social representations;
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1401252
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