This book explores the relationship between knowledge and context through a novel analysis of processes of representation. Sandra Jovchelovitch argues that representation, a social psychological construct relating self, other and object-world, is at the basis of all knowledge. Understanding its genesis and actualisation in individual and social life explains what ties knowledge to persons, communities and cultures. It is through representation that we can appreciate the diversity of knowledge, and it is representation that opens the epistemic function of knowing to emotional and social rationalities.
Drawing on dialogues between psychology, sociology and anthropology, Jovchelovitch explores the dominant assumptions of western conceptions of knowledge and the quest for a unitary reason free from the ‘impurities’ of person, community and culture. She recasts questions related to historical comparisons between the knowledge of adults and children, ‘civilised’ and ‘primitive’ peoples, scientists and lay communities and examines the ambivalence of classical theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky, Freud, Durkheim and Lévy-Bruhl in addressing these issues.
Against this background, Jovchelovitch situates and expands Moscovici’s theory of social representations, developing a framework to diagnose and understand knowledge systems, how they relate to different communities and what defines dialogical and non-dialogical encounters between knowledges in contemporary public spheres. Diversity in knowledge, she shows, is an asset of all human communities and dialogue between different forms of knowing constitutes the difficult but necessary task that can enlarge the frontiers of all knowledges.
Knowledge in context will make essential reading for all those wanting to follow debates on knowledge and representation at the cutting edge of social, cultural and developmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, development and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
Preface. Introduction. Knowledge, Affect and Interaction. Wiser Rationalities: The Diversity of Knowledge. Community, Public Spheres and Knowledge. The Forms and Functions of Knowledge. Encountering the Knowledge of Others. Studying Knowledge in Everyday Life. Notes. Bibliography.
Sandra Jovchelovitch is Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology and Director of the MSc Programme in Social Psychology at the London School of Economics. Before coming to England, she trained as a psychologist in Brazil, where she actively participated in the process of de-institutionalisation and re-structuring of policies related to the care of the mentally ill. Her research interests are both theoretical and applied and she has published widely in the field of social representations, health, community and development in both English and Portuguese.
'This is a remarkable book in many ways, which elaborates its theme through a brilliant analysis of the concept of representation. The text is exceptionally clearly written, so that even where the ideas it discusses are complex they are nevertheless always comprehensible.' - Gerard Duveen, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK
'This is an exciting, scholarly and highly original book. Sandra Jovchelovitch makes a pathbreaking contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of knowledge in our everyday culture. Knowledge in Context presents a fascinating narrative about a crucial topic in social psychology, with a special emphasis on social representations. It also provides an insightful look at and absorbing reading about experiences that affect our lives.' - Serge Moscovici, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France
'Wide ranging, scholarly and widely integrative, this book reads beautifully as deep and foundational psychology. It covers developmental and social theorists with insight and intelligence, and provides a unique source on Moscovici linking him to larger intellectual traditions. I see this book in the canon of those books that have to be read to have any chance of understanding what psychology could be, should be, and is too often not, about.' - Joseph Glick, Professor of Psychology, City University of New York, USA