Social Representations of Refugees: Objects, Anchors and Positions of the Left in SEE

Maria Adela Gjorgjioska

Social representations are defined as theories of common sense constructed and used to deal with complex questions in everyday life. (Doise, Clemence, Moscovici). To answer such questions we rely on the knowledge shared in society around us, with the groups in which we belong acting as mediators to the knowledge transmission process. This occurs through three different processes:1. Objectification which refers to the process of transforming abstract into concrete information resulting in the creation of symbolic meanings, 2. Anchoring, which allows the objectified knowledge to be adopted into prior knowledge and beliefs,3. Social positioning, which derives from the anchoring of the shared knowledge in different groups. It is not only the expression of an opinion, it is also the way to process information in order to adapt what we think to what society thinks. It provides the means for articulating the variations between intergroup beliefs and knowledge with the temporary crystalization of a network of meanings in a given public sphere. This theory thus offers a venue for researching the positioning of different left groups in South East Europe, in relation to the refugee crisis. The question of how they and their members interpreted this new problem, and how they position themselves in relation to it, is a function of firstly the specific interpretative and normative meta-systems which they rely on, and secondly, as a guide of behavior. (Howarth; Jodelet, 1986).Taking as case studies left groups from Macedonia, Bulgaria and Croatia, the study seeks to determine the variations between intergroup beliefs and positioning, but also if and how these variations determine the actions taken, including humanitarian support, protest-actions, discourse (de)construction, and participation in regional groups of collaboration for establishing alternative solidarity "institutions".

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