From Shared Representations to Consensually Coordinated Actions: Toward an Intrinsically Social Psychology

  • Theo Verheggen
  • Cor Baerveldt


A concern in contemporary social psychological theory is to reestablish its intrinsically social or cultural dimension, since psychology (even social psychology) has been too much a science of self contained individuals. We argue that current approaches to this “restoration” — focussing either on social cognitions or on aggregate features people appear to have in common — cannot present an intrinsically social psychology either. A different approach can be found in social representation theory. We address Wolfgang Wagner’s approach and his notions of social representations as processes of concerted interaction and as world constituting “enactions”. It, however, also holds a problematic notion of social representations as shared representations. As a promising alternative, we present the enactivism framework. While preserving the notion of concerted interaction, it can avoid the epistemological and conceptual pitfalls of “sharedness”. In addition, it can offer a criterion for identifying intrinsically social phenomena.


Social Representation Social Dimension Shared Representation Consensual Domain Experiential Closure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allport, F.H. (1924). Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  2. Baerveldt, C. & Verheggen, T. (1999a). Enactivism and the experiential reality of culture: Rethinking the epistemological basis of cultural psychology. Culture & Psychology, 5 (2), 183–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baerveldt, C. & Verheggen, T. (1999b). Towards a psychological study of culture. Epistemological considerations. In W. Maiers, B. Bayer, B. Duarte Esgalhado, R. Jorna, & E. Schraube (Eds). Challenges to theoretical psychology. North York, Canada: Captus, 296–303.Google Scholar
  4. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. D’Andrade, R.G. (1995) The development of cognitive anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fan, R.M. (1998). From collective to social representations: Aller et retour. Culture & Psychology, 4 (3), 275–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fischer, A. (1991). Emotion scripts: A study of the social and cognitive facets of emotions. Leiden: DSWO Press.Google Scholar
  8. Graumann, C.F. (1986). The individualization of the social and the desocialization of the individual: Floyd H. Allport’s contribution to social psychology. In C.F. Graumann and S. Moscovici (Eds), Changing conceptions of crowd, mind and behavior (pp. 97–116 ). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  9. Greenwood, J.D. (1994). Realism, identity and emotion: Reclaiming social psychology. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Maturana, H. & Varela, F.J. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Dordrecht: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Searle, J.R. (1995). The construction of social reality. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Smith, R. (1997). The Fontana history of the human sciences. London: Fontana Press.Google Scholar
  13. Strauss, C. & Quinn, N. (1998). A cognitive theory of cultural meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Varela, F.J. (1979). Principles of biological autonomy. New York: Elsevier North Holland.Google Scholar
  15. Varela, F.J., Thompson, F., & Rosch, E. (1991). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Wagner, W. (1996). Queries about social representation and construction. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 26 (2), 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wagner, W. (1998). Social representations and beyond: Brute facts, symbolic coping and domesticated worlds. Culture & Psychology, 4 (3), 297–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Whitaker, R. (1997). Self-organization, autopoiesis, and enterprises. Retrieved June 12, 1997 from the World Wide Web:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo Verheggen
    • 1
  • Cor Baerveldt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations