The Affective Dimension of Social Representations: Donald Trump and the Social Representation of Illegal Immigration
The purpose of this text is to present some considerations on the need to incorporate the study of emotions and affect as a dimension of social representations. A key trait of social representations is that they constitute processes through which new meanings and social identities are created and projected into the social world. In these processes, emotions are fundamental since they help us to interpret and judge social situations and objects. As indicated in this paper, the affective or emotional state of a person plays an essential role in social interaction, the construction of meanings, the selection of information and the way it is communicated. Since the role of emotions in social representational processes has undergone limited conceptual development within the field, I refer to some research studies that have suggested different lines of inquiry that may contribute to the understanding of social representations as emotional processes. In order to support the thesis that emotions play an important role in the construction of social representations, I present the analysis of an empirical study on Trump’s social representation of illegal immigration, in which two processes are central: the creation of an emotional atmosphere, and emotional anchoring.