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Additional resources for Meaning in action : constructions, narratives, and representations

Example text

Communicative paradigms alert us to the dangers involved in non-dialogical encounters and the attempt to “transfer” knowledge to communities seen in a state of ignorance, distortion or need; by failing to recognize and by denying legitimacy to the knowledge of others, even if perceived as bizarre and inadequate by the observer, non-dialogue provokes short-term solutions that do not work in the long run and prevents the expansion in the boundaries of all knowledges involved. When Freire (1970) devised the literacy method for teaching deprived communities in Brazil to read and write, he took into consideration precisely those representations that belong to a group’s way of life and identity.

The second part of his book, which unfortunately tends to receive less attention than the first, tackles the analysis of the communicative genres typical of each one of the social milieus Moscovici studied. Linking the first and the second parts of the book is crucial to understand the overall project of social representations, for what the study makes clear is the centrality of communication in the production of representations and how different communicative genres produce different representational systems (Moscovici 1976).

The literary model of Arthur Miller’s text illustrates the distinction between acting and doing particularly well. Every actor follows his or her interests as well as possible and as far as the institutional frame allows. Being accused creates defense, denial and counter-accusation in a series of motivated actions and talk as convincingly shown by discursive psychology research (Edwards and Potter 1992). By and through these personally well-reasoned actions the villagers unwittingly confirm the social object and social representation of witchcraft and justify its material consequences of incarceration and execution.

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