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Unformatted text preview: ry an imperative obligation to identity formation. The development of social representations with different identity
* This paper was presented at the First International Conference on Social Representations, Villa Rufolo,
Ravello, Italy, October 1992.
Papers on Social Representations - Textes sur les Représentations Sociales
( 1021-5573) Vol. 2 (3), 1-177 (1993). 2 G. Duveen structures may follow different paths. In the rest of this paper I shall be drawing on our
recent research which investigated the development of gender identities through the first year
of schooling. We studied about 100 children in four different schools, following them
through their first year (which in England means that they had their 5th birthday during the
course of the year). The investigations included ethnographic observations, structured observations, and interview measures.
The Development of Gendered Identities
An identity can be considered as a psychological process through which meanings are
organised and which enables the person to position themselves as a social actor. Social
identity in this sense is a way of organising experience which contributes towards the definition of self, but does so by locating the self within the collective world. We have spoken
about the expression of social identities since it is through the activities and practices of
children that we have access to the social identities which organise such activities. In the
course of constructing an identity children draw upon the social representations available to
them and in doing so also locate themselves in a particular position within this collective
system of meaning. For the young child meanings are more clearly established through their
practical activity than their intellectual understanding. As our research has illustrated, the
social marking of people (themselves and others), of material culture and of space provides
the scaffolding which enables children to sustain an organised gender identity. When children
were interviewed about their understanding, the support of this collective practice was no
longer available to them, and their responses were noticeably less clearly organised.
This sequence in the development of social representations running from practice to
reflective knowledge calls to mind the Vygotskyian formula that development proceeds from
the interpersonal to the intrapersonal:
'Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first on the social level, and later, on
the individual level; first between people (interpsychological), and then inside the child
(intrapsychological)'. (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 57). Moscovici (1990) voices some doubts about this notion of internalisation, suggesting that
it appears too glib, 'too good to be true' (p. 179) as he puts it. What disturbs Moscovici is
that Vygotsky's formula suggests a direct relationship betwe...
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2012 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 107 taught by Professor Neascu during the Spring '12 term at UMass (Amherst).
- Spring '12
- Social Psychology