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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Extraordinary Grant Report by Natalia Cojocaru

21.03.2016, by Sibylle Classen in grant report

Moldova State University, Chisinau, Moldova

The EASP travel grant provided me the opportunity to visit the European/International Joint PhD Research Centre from Rome, Italy, and work there for a period of three weeks in November 2015. The Social Representations and Communication Research Centre and Multimedia Lab is an excellent center that offers documentation services; networking and research training for early stage and experienced researchers.

During this time, it was a great pleasure to meet and discuss with Prof. Annamaria Silvana de Rosa, Director of the Social  Representations and Communication Research Centre and Multimedia Lab and her assistants Elena Bocci, Laura Drijanska and Robert Barakat. Prof. de Rosa has an extensive experience in managing international projects and great supervisor’s expertise of a large number of doctoral students. The laboratory she has created and currently leads includes a large interdisciplinary team of young and experienced researchers. I have familiarized myself with the research management in the laboratory, infrastructure, PhD program and the research lines presently launched and pursued at the laboratory. This experience will prove useful when organizing similar activities in the department in which I am currently working.

Concerning the topic of social representations, I am interested in the theoretical conceptualization of the sensitive objects of  representation, and the polemic representations that are shaped by them, including also the dilemmas when approaching this type of social objects. I have recently started to look more closely into this topic as part of the research project proposed for the Habilitation Degree.

Therefore, during my stay at The Social Representations and Communication Research Centre I could broaden and refine my knowledge in an intellectually stimulating international environment while adding more substance to my own research. This fellowship was primarily a great occasion to work directly with Prof. de Rosa, who has comprehensive experience in this domain, and develop a common project linked with the topic of polemic representations and their societal impact. In addition, I had the occasion to share my experience and work outcomes and exchange views and opinions with a PhD scholar from the program who works on the same topic.

I retrieved the new resources on polemic representations and developed certain theoretical ideas of the research project designed for my Habilitation Degree. This project is concerned with the topic of polemic representations and the sensitive objects that generate them. I have been working in the laboratory selecting relevant texts, book chapters, and articles regarding different issues related to this topic.

Based on the new resources that I examined during this period, I gained also new insights for an article, which is in progress for submitting for publication in a specialized journal.* In this article, I examine how the social representations of perestroika reforms were built initially in consensus with the hegemonic communist ideology, but become controversial and polemic later, when national issues broke out. This paper argues that the 1989 collective actions can be understood as a struggle for social recognition of the nascent polemic representation about history and identity, a recurrent effort until the present days. Later, this representation remained polemic, without having reached a social consensus at the intergroup level. Two elements are distinguishable in the construction of this social representation. On the one hand, the changed meaning given to public meetings: they were not only an occasion to praise the communist power anymore, but also an instrument of opposition. On the other hand, the intensification of discussions about identity divided the discourses into two parallel universes. This conflictual oppositional intergroup dynamics has shaped the polemic character of the representation. Memories of that period linked with the subsequent events are framed between resignation and militancy. Yet, the persistent tension of an unconsumed conflict lingers, and the polemic nature of those events remains polemic.

In the present research for Habilitation Degree, taking into consideration my previous research as well different case studies that referred to this topic, I intend to examine in depth the genesis of polemic representations as well as their social trajectories and evolution in order to identify their transformation over time and the conditions in which some of them remain polemic.

Besides this, I have detected and retrieved resources concerning the literature on Social Representations not yet filled into the SoReCom “A.S. de Rosa” @-Library and completed the database with new resources. I have downloaded PDF resources in Romanian and Russian languages and then inserted them in the database.

Given the facilities offered by the Social Representations and Communication Research Centre and Multimedia Lab, as well as Prof. A. de Rosa’s expertise as a supervisor, this fellowship was an excellent opportunity to develop the research project I have launched for my Habilitation degree and establish collaborations for a common research project on the polemic social representations and their societal impact.

I really hope that we will continue the collaboration in various scientific activities and research projects (conferences, scientific seminars, collective research projects etc.). Presently, we reflect on the possibility to apply for different research programs and publishing initiatives.

* The rise of a polemic representation in the context of glasnost reform. The case of Moldova, East European Societies and Politics (under peer review).