Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 16 Issue 4 (July/August 2006), Pages 247-336

Applying social psychology to the study of environmental concern and environmental worldviews: contributions from the social representations approach (pages 247-266)


Recently some social psychological approaches have intensified their contributions to research in the environmental domain, helping it to focus more consistently on the shared aspects of all environment related experiences. The goal of this paper is that of joining these efforts, exploring the contributions of the social representations approach to research on environmental concern and environmental thought, as another area for applying social psychological knowledge. The paper first sketches how the environmental concern of the publics emerged in the 70s as a problem for the social sciences and proceeds to summarizing the main characteristics of this research, focusing on three problematic areas: (1) incipient theoretical integration among the frameworks dominating research; (2) insufficient reflection about the assumptions and measurement of the concepts employed; (3) a need for new research questions that push studies beyond the analysis of the socio‐demographical correlates of beliefs. Afterwards a presentation of social representations theory will be undertaken and the usefulness of the approach to deal with some aspects of the problematic areas identified will be explored, with examples from recent research, and highlighting the importance of focusing on contradiction, polyphasia, and the articulation of the local and the global. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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