Researching the Offbeat: a Metaphor

  • Wolfgang Wagner Johannes Kepler University


In this essay I liken social representation research to listening to syncopated rhythms. Just like the offbeat makes music captivating, the verbal raw material in qualitative research is discourse in action and everyday life. Through this tune, researchers need to feel and extract the ‘beat’, which, when done properly, may be called the underlying representation. Dialectically returning to the ‘offbeat’ with the representation in mind, then allows to identify the particular signature of the respondents’ standpoint in life, their motivation and social positioning.

Author Biography

Wolfgang Wagner, Johannes Kepler University

WOLFGANG WAGNER is professor of social psychology at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. He was involved in Social Representation Theory for the last 20 years.