What Is Social Representation Theory?

Social representation theory centers around the idea that humans are social creatures and thus create pillars of reference in the world around them that allow them to communicate and share ideas. By understanding how humans relate to those pillars, social scientists can better understand the nature of interpersonal communication.

Some of the most common pillars of relation referred to in the social representation theory include money, education, gender, religion, race, social class, food, illness, genetics, diversity and intelligence. Any concept that affects humanity as a whole can be considered a reference for the social framework that allows humans to function as a group. Without these basic references, interpersonal communication would become nearly impossible.

Humans require a reference point of shared experience in order to understand fully another person's individual experience. Social representation theory also relates these reference points or pillars to major themes like social justice, inequality and poverty, morality, and other basic and complex human ideals. Although the theory states that these reference points have always existed throughout human history, the rise of technology and modern society is always producing new pillars of reference, while others die out as they no longer hold meaning for the modern human existence.