Valences, Traces And New Synthesis In Social Representing. Commentary of J. Valsiner’s Creating sign hierarchies

  • Tania Zittoun University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Keywords: semiotic processes, development, cultural psychology, catalysis, war, emotions, historicity, externalization


Based on a chemical metaphor, Valsiner’s (2013) model proposes to consider social

representations as semiotic processes regulating developmental dynamic. In this paper I

pursue this exploration by considering situations in which people’s trajectories lead

them to confront with conflicting social representations. Based on the two cases of

young women’s war experience, I suggest (i) that social representation have, for a given

person, different “weight” than others, because they have longer story for him or her;

(ii) that social representations might have positive or negative “valences”, due to their

emotional resonance; and that (iii) the existence of specific conditions of “natural

laboratories” might help us to account for the processes by which people nonetheless

engage into new forms of representing.

Author Biography

Tania Zittoun, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

TANIA ZITTOUN is professor of psychology and education at the University of Neuchâtel

(Switzerland). She studies development along the life course and is currently examining

imagination as sociocultural process. Associate editor of Culture & Psychology, she is also coauthor

of Human Development in the life course: melodies of living (CUP 2013).