Reflections on the Diversity of Knowledge: Power and Dialogue in Representational Fields

  • Sandra Jovchelovitch


When Moscovici retrieved the Durkheimian concept of collective representations and gave a new twist to it (Moscovici 1976), he was contemplating a world fundamentally different from the one Durkheim had sought to understand. Indeed, contrary to traditional societies, where collective representations could operate as a binding force in an almost homogenous fashion, new processes of de-traditionalization started to open representations to contestation and scrutiny, bringing different forms of knowing to compete and clash in the public arena. Contemporary public spheres have witnessed dramatic examples of these new interfaces between knowledge systems, expressed in the battles of multiculturalism, the plight of asylum seekers and the insertion of diasporic communities in national states (Benhabib 2002, 2004; Chryssochoou 2000; Heelas et al. 1996; Smelser and Alexander 1999). Ours is a world of social rather than collective representations, where knowledge travels relatively free from the constraints traditionally imposed by geography and time, class and culture, penetrating locales that are psychologically and geographically distant with relative easiness. The shift from collective to social representations has been discussed extensively (Moscovici 1984, 1988, 1989; Jovchelovitch 2001, 2007), and sociological research (Beck 1992; Beck et al. 1994; Bauman 2001; Giddens 1991) has helped us to understand with greater clarity how traditional forms of knowledge are undermined by the reflexivity of modernity.


Social Representation Public Sphere Knowledge System Asylum Seeker Everyday Knowledge 
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.


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© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Jovchelovitch
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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