Publication 6107

Chryssides A., Dashtipour P., Keshet S., Righi C., Sammut G. & Sartawi M. (2009) We don’t share! The social representation approach, enactivism and the fundamental incompatibilities between the two. Culture & Psychology 15(1): 83–95.
Underlying all theories are philosophical presuppositions that lend themselves to different epistemological approaches, which need to be unfurled when comparing theories and offering alternative explanations. Contrary to Verheggen and Baerveldt’s (2007) promulgation that `enactivism’ may be an adequate alternative for Wagner’s social representation approach, this commentary outlines how this may be a misguided position. Enactivism, following an outward trajectory from nervous systems, to minds, to `(inter)action’, to social enactivism, is incompatible with the dialogical epistemology underpinning social representations theory. Social representations are not reducible to individual minds, and dialogical interaction is not reducible to operationally closed `systems’ in (inter)action. The difference between the two approaches lies in the fundamental paradigmatic distinction between molar and molecular explanatory frameworks. Offering one as an alternative to the other overlooks the epistemological differences between the two and fails to appreciate the discrepancies between different levels of analysis, explanatory frameworks and the very phenomena that theories problematize.
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