Society Against Covid-19: Challenges for the Socio-genetic Point of View of Social Representations

Society against covid-19

  • Thémistoklis Apostolidis Aix-Marseille University
  • Maria de Fatima Santos Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
  • Nikos Kalampalikis University of Lyon 2
Keywords: social representations, covid-19, extraordinary phenomenon, socio-genetic approach


Today we are experiencing a radical break in our daily lives in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. Faced with a situation of widespread threat, our societies are caught in an unprecedented spiral of coercive measures and social control. In this context, we are not only witnessing a global health pandemic, but also, and above all, a social pandemic under the prism, in particular, of over-focusing media and the flood of communications. Indeed, the covid-19 is not only a medical and scientific object, but an eminently social one. The social representations approach offers a unique paradigm for studying this exceptional phenomenon. Our reactions to the virus do not only inform us of the risks that the virus poses to us, but also constitute a mirror of ourselves, our systems of thought, our relationships, values, theories on common worlds and the principles that organize our social functioning. It is in this sense that covid-19 is a powerful revealer of individual and social realities. We argue that the socio-genetic approach to social representations is heuristic and allows us to study this unprecedented pandemic phenomenon in its entirety. We rely on various illustrative examples to identify the processes of objectification and anchoring of this object in and through social thinking in order to show the relevance of some conceptual tools in the field of social representations to analyze the construction of covid-19. We discuss several challenges for socio-representational research for a better understanding of psychosocial processes involved in the current pandemic context.