Diffusion, Propagation, Propaganda: And Then Came Effusion. A New Mode of Communication for Social Representations

  • Fabrice Buschini Université de Bretagne Occidentale
  • Elisabeth Guillou Université de Bretagne Occidentale
Keywords: social representations, modes of communication, metasystems, effusion, social judgment


The advent of the internet and information and communication technology marked a radical shift in how people communicate. Moscovici (1995) highlighted that this new reality produced representations with their own logic and style, but did not envisage that they would have their own metasystem and a new mode of communication that will subsequently be referred as effusion. Effusion shares some common features with rumour: information transmitted between receivers and sources with interchangeable positions and, therefore, equivalent statuses. It is however different and cannot be likened to rumour because the relations between receivers and sources, which are both specific and general, are predominantly virtual. Our analysis shows that effusion differs from the Moscovici’s three classic modes of communication (diffusion, propagation and propaganda; see Moscovici, 2008), in terms of target audience, objective, and function. Although it may appear to be informative, what it actually does is to activate a cognitive modality different from opinion, attitude, or stereotype that corresponds to specific behavioural modalities required by the metasystem. The impact of effusion on social representations is discussed.

Free standing papers