Relationships between revisited genetic psychology and the theory of social representations. A critical analysis.

  • José António Castorina CONICET and University of Buenos Airoes


While many social psychologists have postulated the “disciplinary double-sidedness” of the relationship between developmental psychology and the theory of social representations, here I advance a different position. I suggest an explicit collaboration between the two research programmes, which correspond to two different disciplines, with their own methodologies and theories. Such research programmes evolve as time passes, by facing new problems or explaining the conditions that produce those problems. Hence, I first analyse the epistemological difficulties and problems of this collaboration, starting by exposing a history of the relationships around the study of social knowledge. I then analyse the links between developmental psychology and genetic social psychology, the latter a newer field. I go on to argue in favour of the compatibility between both research programmes, using a relational and dialectical epistemological framework that lies behind critical constructivism studies and the theory of social representations. Next, I identify some of the contributions of social representations to the study of the development of social knowledge among children and adolescents. I also emphasise the cognitive mechanisms analysed by genetic psychology in order to understand the ontogenesis of social representations, especially in the dialectical processes of indifferentiation, differentiation and integration, or relativisation, which originated in the posthumous work of Piaget. Finally, I examine the possibilities for collaboration between the two research programmes, including integrating personal knowledge to the concept of cognitive polyphasia, and reassessing the difficulties for said collaboration. 

Author Biography

José António Castorina, CONICET and University of Buenos Airoes

JOSÉ ANTONIO CASTORINA is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina. He holds a chair in the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and is a Principal Researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas in Argentina. Professor Castorina’s articles and book chapters focus on the reformulation of a constructivist perspective, of Piagetian inspiration, to interpret the genesis of social knowledge among children; he has produced substantial work on the relationships between social development psychology and the theory of social representations, focusing especially on the debates between those two research programmes from an epistemological perspective. Furthermore, he has examined the debates between discursive psychology and the theory of social representations. His research team seeks to empirically realise an amalgamation between constructivist developmental psychology and the theory of social representations.