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  • Final Report Summary - SORECOMJOINTIDP (The European Joint Doctorate on Social Representations and Communication: an innovative doctoralprogram in a networked international research training environment)

Final Report Summary - SORECOMJOINTIDP (The European Joint Doctorate on Social Representations and Communication: an innovative doctoralprogram in a networked international research training environment)

Built on the sound experience of both the European/International Joint PhD in Social Representations and Communication, awarding a recognized joint degree since 1996 (, and the EU approved So.Re.Com. THEmatic NETwork, this international joint doctoral programme includes 8 universities, 2 private companies and 1 public research institute in 8 European countries (AT, CH, CZ, ES, FR, IT, RO, SE), and 6 universities in United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and China.

The goal was to provide doctoral training in Social Representations and Communication, a supra-disciplinary research area of the social sciences that studies the social construction of everyday knowledge in social spheres and media, disseminating European excellence beyond the EU boundaries and attracting the best ESR from abroad. Structured into transnational teams by common research area and complementary multi-methodological approaches, this SoReCom Joint-IDP has guaranteed a well-tested training structure including: a) an innovative integrated physical and virtual campus, where world-class academic scientists, internationally recognised experts, experienced researchers and ESR cooperate face-to face and online “for” and “by” research; b) multiple supervision via tutoring and co-tutoring; c) individual mobility for ESR at research centres for secondments; d) collective international mobility of trainees and teaching staff during International Summer Schools and Lab meetings; e) learning by doing (including transferable skills) in academic and non-academic settings; f) worldwide access to common web platform, as tool for documentation, networking, training and monitoring trainees’ progress; g) high tech infrastructure and lab facilities; h) quality evaluation system; i) officialisation of the joint degree; l) active integration in the world-wide SoReCom THEmatic NETwork; m) enhancement of career prospects both in and outside academia.

The So.Re.Com. Joint-IDP research training programme focuses on a supra-disciplinary area of the social sciences, and in particular of Social Psychology, inspired by the Social Representations Theory, one of the most important theories of the social construction of knowledge. Founded in 1961 by Serge Moscovici (honorary programme director of the European/International Joint PhD in Social Representations and Communication until his death in 2014), the study of social representations, originally specifically European, is currently a multilingual, worldwide discipline with a substantial body of literature. It involves leading scholars from both social psychology and the social sciences: sociology, anthropology, education, economics, linguistics, semiotics and communication and media studies. Contrary to the fragmentation of traditional social science disciplines, the field of Social Representations represents a unifying meta-theoretical perspective on the social construction of knowledge and its relation to socially situated practices. Consequently, the So.Re.Com. Joint-IDP project is open to trans-disciplinary and multi-methodological research approaches (experimental and field work). Studies of “what” people know – and “how” it relates to the social groups to which they belong and to the media – are concerned with the social construction and representation of a particular object (e.g. health-illness, environment, new technologies, politics, economics, European integration and enlargement, minority groups, immigrants and racism, human rights, etc.) and how its related scientific theories are transformed into everyday knowledge. The "objects" studied have a strong societal impact and important practical applications in political, economic and social spheres.

Given the wide range of the research sub-topics developed by the cross-national and cross-sectoral research teams, the project leader has decided to issue a call for vacancy defining a priority list of projects guided by the main goal of evaluating the impact of the scientific production driven by the Social Representations theory in the social arena faced with social demand. The aim was to take stock of the scientific field developed in more than 50 years by conducting an empirical meta-theoretical analysis of the literature on Social Representations, mapping the development of different paradigms, the related research methods, the thematic areas and their impact on the various applied fields within the multi-generational community of scientists and across different geo-cultural contexts.

This comprehensive research framework was built on an on-going multi-year project launched and led since 1994 by the director of the European/International Joint PhD in Social Representations and Communication who has designed specific web-tools (including the on-line grid for the meta-theoretical analysis and the related web-repositories) for the purpose of conducting an empirical meta-theoretical analysis of the literature on Social Representations.

Therefore it was supported by mediated access to the digital resources implemented on the website (full bibliographic repository, meta-theoretical analysis repository, specialised SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library and search engine connected with all the above mentioned repertoires, including a very rich documentation built up over two decades with an enormous effort of work team coordination and assessment by the project leader), as well as access to the most comprehensive physical library worldwide specialised in the Social Representations and Communication literature currently available at the location of the European/International Joint PhD in Social Representations and Communication Research Centre and Multimedia Lab (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy).

The unified research project framework was articulated into 13 research lines developed by each recruited ESR, recruited by matching their own interests and area of prior expertise:
• Five research lines were focussed on the genesis and development of different paradigmatic approaches: a) the “structural paradigmatic approach”, b) the “socio-dynamic paradigmatic approach”, c) the “dialogical, conversational and narrative paradigmatic approaches”, the “anthropological and ethnographic paradigmatic approach”, d) the “modelling paradigmatic approach”.
• Three research lines were aimed at “Mapping the impact and dissemination of the social representation theory across different geo-cultural contexts”: a) “Europe”, the theory’s homeland; b) the “Latin America”, the most fertilised scenario; c) the “North-America and other continents (Oceania, Asia, Africa)”: the new emerging scenarios.
• Five research lines were aimed at “Taking stock of the literature in several thematic fields”: a) “Science, Social Representations and Communication”, b) “Social Representations and Environment”, c) “Social Representations, Economy, Advertising, Marketing and Organizational Contexts”; d) “Social Representations, Community & Health”, e) “Social Representations & Politics: Multidimensional identities, intergroup relations, social movements and active minorities”

Coherently with the main objectives and the specific focus on the individual research project, the ESRs have been requested to accomplish the following main tasks, as defined in the Annex I and in the call for recruitment:
• to detect and retrieve publications not yet inserted in the specialized SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library, and meta-analyse the whole body of the literature on Social Representations produced according to the “specific focus on the individual research project” over the world and not only in the geo-cultural context/continent of the host institution for mobility stage;
• to fill the new information and upload the related PDF files into the specialized SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library;
• to carry out statistical analyses on the complete meta-theoretically analyse the body (extracted from the SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library inventories after the integration of the new information);
• to produce video-interviews – according to an outline designed by the project leader and to be possibly integrated by the ESRs – with the key scientists who contribute to the development of the “specific focus on the individual research project” to Social Representations;
• to fully describe, visualize and comment the results obtained in intermediate reports and in the PhD thesis (in the double format of detailed report in English and a short article).

The ESRs have presented the results related to their individual research focus in their final deliverable, their doctoral thesis that they have all successfully defended in June 2017. The articulation of these 13 research lines and their related results shows the great synergy between the realisation of the unified research program and the ESRs’ individual needs, and has allowed to provide a wider picture and understanding of the development and diffusion worldwide of the Social Representations Theory since its creation in 1962.

The insertion of all the meta-analyses conducted by the ESRs in the specialised SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library (with its search engine connected with all the various repertoires) will make available to the scientific community the worldwide most comprehensive digital library specialised in the Social Representations and Communication literature in the new web platform developed along the project life cycle.

The high societal impact of the knowledge developed by the researchers working in Social Representations and Communication in many cross-thematic areas of supra-disciplinary interest (environment, health, education, science and technology, communication, politics, economics, etc.) is another added value of the knowledge produced thanks to this ambitious SoReCom Joint-IDP program.

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