Social Representations of Smolensk, April 10, 2010 in Poland and in Italy
The Polish government airplane crash in Smolensk, on April 10, 2010 has shaken up the whole nation. It was an unfamiliar event, communicated by every media and discussed by literally everybody. What were the social representations of it and how did they change over time? This article explores the above questions by presenting the results of research conducted in Poland and in Italy. Poland was directly hit by the event and Italy was also exposed to a large quantity of news about it in a way quite similar to the exposure of other European countries but not as intense and constant as the exposure of Poland. The research is three-dimensional: based on questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with fifty men and women from both Poland and Italy, participant observation of the visible reactions of society on the streets of Warsaw, and the analysis of Polish and Italian daily papers. It applies the theory of Moscovici to a fairly recent
event by identifying social representations of what happened and demonstrating the interplay with mass media. The article focuses on the aspect of communication in the development of social representations over time, starting from the very day when the new event took place, for eight consecutive days.