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Method and Explanation in History and in Social Representations

Markova I (2012) Method and Explanation in History and in Social Representations. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 46 (4), pp. 457-474.

A commonly held point of view defines a discipline as a science if it uses inductive and/or deductive methods in studying phenomena in question, because these methods, it is believed, will enable generalization of findings. Both history and theory of social representations study unique phenomena and therefore, for these disciplines, induction and deduction are unsuitable methods of exploration. History and theory of social representations treat a historical event and a social psychological phenomenon, respectively, as dynamic, systemic and one of its kind. Using relational epistemologies, these disciplines produce context-dependent and context-specific knowledge. Whilst similarities among historical, as well as among social psychological occurrences do exist, they do not yield themselves to inductive generalization. Studies of unique cases require different kinds of generalization; rather than generalising to populations, they pose questions about generalizability, or transferability, with respect to theories of other historical events or social psychological phenomena.

Social representations; History; Unique events; Abduction; Generalization; Explanation

Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science: Volume 46, Issue 4

Author(s)Markova, Ivana
Publication date31/12/2012
Publication date online22/07/2012
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