Health and Social Representations: A Structural Approach
Since the development of the theory of social representations (Moscovici, 1961/1976), many studies have focused on health-related objects. Although the social representation of health has already been studied through a socio-genetic/anthropological approach (Herzlich, 1969), it has never been studied in relation to the central core theory (Abric, 1994). Health is a complex and composite object, but it is also normative and normalised. The aim of this research was to underline the representational content of such an object of social representation. To do so, 120 participants took part in the study. They were asked to complete a verbal association task and the data were processed by using both rank-frequency processing and importance-frequency processing as well as similarity analysis. Findings showed an impact of the method on the centrality hypothesis. Well-being and (absence of) illness appeared as the central elements in the case of rank-frequency processing, while only well-being was highlighted as a central element in the case of importance-frequency processing. In addition, the similarity analysis enabled us to identify five clusters around which health-related representation is organised (positive feelings and health-related assets, overall health, health-related expressions, medical health, and health management/monitoring). The discussion of these results will focus on the characteristics of the object, but also on theoretical-methodological aspects.