"The theory of Social Representation and other paradigms:
historical roots, articulations and development?
(Lisbon, Portugal 6th-16th September 1997)
n° contract ERBFMMACT960165
Publicity of the scientific event
a) to appropriate scientific circles through the news letters of Social Representation Network , of European Association of Experimental Social Psychology and of national Association of Social Psychology;
b) to young researchers (aged 35 years or under) and to special target groups such as researchers who work in less-favoured regions of Europe (i.e. Portugal, Greece) and woman researchers, but also out of the E.U. (for reaching a wider scientific audience and for enlarging the visibility of the scientific event) through informational bulletins of various universities;
c) through a specific World Wide Web site activated for the development of the European PhD on Social Representations and Communication (www.europhd.psi.uniroma1.it) linked to other relevant web sites of other international institutions (London School of Economics, EuroPACE 2000, M.S.H. etc.) and through internet pages includes in the Web sites of University La Sapienza, of the Faculty of Psychology and of Dept. of Social and Developmental Psychology. The dedicated internet site was conceived not only as tool for short term publicity purposes, but also as long term strategy of the visibility of the cycle of the events lasting three years and for sending application directly by internet;
d) through traditional tools (brochures, leaflets, mail, fax, phone calls) for addressing personally the appropriate scientific target by using the list of the participants of the previous Summer Schools (already organised in Finland, 1995 and in Aix en-Provence, 1996), the list of the members and affiliates of several scientific national and international Associations in Social Psychology (young affiliates as well as their Presidents and representative senior members for activating their promoting activities within their young assistants and researchers), the list of all the young researchers who contacted the scientific secretary of the European PhD showing interest in the new European curriculum for training researchers.
All the publicity materials showed clearly acknowledgement of support from the European Commission and the conditions to apply. Furthermore, although preliminary, the scientific programme, the list of the teachers (all of them very famous experts in the area) and the pedagogic structure of the courses were diffused in advance in a very detailed way in order to attract a wider target and to select the candidates in a competitive way.
The selection of the candidates
Furthermore a limited number of other participants have been selected: 42 post- graduate / young researchers, coming from 13 countries. Finally in total 31 post- graduate / young researchers coming from 11 countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden) and out of Europe (Brazil, Argentina) confirmed their participation. 10 of them were participants into the European PhD on S.R; & C. and 20 of them were in the condition to be supported by T.M.R. on the basis of their age and nationality, as established by the contract. (see. the attached list).
The selection was made by the organisers of the Summer School within a specific meeting of the Executive Committee of the European PhD on Social Representations and Communication (held in Lisbon on 2-3 May 1997), whose costs has not been charged on T.M.R. This meeting was also aimed at defining very carefully all the scientific and logistic details for organising successfully the event in Lisbon.
The scientific event
As testified by the very enthusiastic comments filled in the evaluation forms by the participants at the end of the event, the 3rd Summer School on Social Representations and Communication was very successful thanks to:
- the coherence between the announced preliminary scientific programme and the definitive high-level realised programme (see the attached sheet);
- the participation of sixteen teachers coming from several Universities and research-centres spread over six European countries (Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland) all of them very famous experts in the area, including the founder of the theory of Social Representation, Serge Moscovici and the leading scholars at E.H.E.S.S. (F) Denise Jodelet, and L.E.P.S. (F) Willem Doise, at L.S.E. ( U.K.) Robert Farr, etc. (see the attached list);
- the pedagogic structure of the Summer School, which was aimed at promoting not only a passive attendance of the courses and lectures, but also at engaging actively the participants in a public discussion and in presenting their own research activities in a multinational and multicultural setting and a particular multifaceted scientific scenario, comprised of their young colleagues working at different research-centres and the most respected international experts of the discipline;
- the special session of discussion reserved to the European PhD researchers with their national and foreign tutors and with the representative members of the European PhD Executive Committee, including the programme director and the co-ordinator;
- the special training session dedicated to the didactic use of the internet W.W.W. site of the EU PhD on S.R. & C.;
- the extra lectures provided in an interdisciplinary scenario (anthropology, mass communication, sociology) by the invited experts in the evening sessions;
- the care dedicated by the organisers to all the details both on logistic and scientific point of views.
In short, the fundamental objectives of the project has been achieved. In particularly:
a) the participants received the possibility in a multinational and multidisciplinarian setting of deepening their study of the paradigm of Social Representation (including its sources, historical roots fundamental notions, development and meta-theoretical debate) seen from the point of view of theory, including the comparison with other constructs (attitude, image, ideology, values) and theories of the social psychology (social influence theory, social identity theory, social memory) and other disciplines (such as linguistics, mass communication, anthropology) availing themselves of the noteworthy diverse experiences and the international team of experts in their particular field of study.
With regard to the course reserved to those who have already graduated, already chosen as " European PhD" students, the level of the course was not basic, but rather "specialised"; therefore the contents did not deal with elements already noted in theory, but provided greater emphasis on meta-theoreretical aspects and criteria necessary for the formation of the "how " and " wherefore" of the research.
b) the participants, beyond the obvious advantages of working with people from other Universities and countries, received the possibility of comparing, in an international setting, their theory, methodology and diverse practices. Taking advantage of the special competencies of various teachers, the participants entered into contact in a wider and deeper manner the many facets of the paradigm Social Representations.
As expected in the planned project, such an exchange of knowledge was useful in several ways:
- To be trained in being involved in different sessions of learning, so that they were not simply "onlookers" but they were drawn into the method of learning, sharing what they have learned from their academic training in their native land.
- To provide the European PhD tutors the possibility to monitor the formative development of the PhD students following the same criteria of valuation which little by little can set "European standards" to and beyond research.
- Finally, to take advantage of the opportunity of a collaboration between the various teachers with the ultimate goal of enriching the methods of teaching in the international arena. Dealing with a completely new reality, the teachers of this of this new " extended European Faculty", which represents the teaching team so recently founded, nonetheless have matured over the past several scientific meetings among experts ( international conferences). During the summer school they were challenged to come together for a "didactic exchange" with a new generation of researchers from various nations.
During the intensive course held in Lisbon on September 1997 over 10 days, the teachers were able to avail of the frequent and agreeable contact at an international level with the participants and other colleagues, creating or strengthening links at a professional level, and exchanging ideas and information in a privileged sphere.
Beyond the fruits that such an exchange is bound to bear for the students and teachers participating in the Summer School, an indirect benefits was also obtained. These appertain not only to the co-ordinating and hosting Universities, but to all the University partners. Indeed, as has already been seen from the previous Summer Schools respectively held in Finland on 1995 and in France on 1996, also for the Summer School held in Portugal on 1997 there is a "parabola effect", when one considers the accumulative effect the course will have on the participants who are introduced to a wider academic world, whether it be at the level of student, lecturer or administration.
In terms of the scientific/technological importance, state-of-the-art, and application interest of these Summer Schools, it is plausible to recognise that even though there have been Summer Schools which have concentrated on general themes in Social Psychology (just one each two-three years thanks to the initiative of E.A.E.S.P.), at the moment these cycle of three related events of Summer Schools on Social Representations and Communication represent the unique scientific intensive programme activity, which are regularly held each year in a different European country and are devoted exclusively to a leading area of Social Psychology. A sign of the growth in this sector may be seen in the list of numerous members enrolled in the Social Representations Network (which is ever increasing) and from the proliferation of magazines and edited books specifically dedicated to this area, published not only in Europe, but throughout the world.
Development planned for the next year: "THE THEORY TOWARDS APPLICATIONS"
The next Summer School will be dedicated to practical applications of the research which have been suggested using the paradigm of Social Representation. Particular attention will be given to the illustration of relevant projects across national borders, with the goal of reaching the full European dimension social knowledge. Along with other objectives achieved, the results which we can hope to achieve are, above all, a more ample and accurate formation of researchers on the specific themes dealt with in the Summer School related to various fields of applicantion (organisation, institutions, economy, politics, environment, education, intergroup relations, professional socialisation, health, advertisement, normative society). These will be able to produce a wide rexpertise in work/ research of a higher level, with worthwhile theory and competent methodology.