Pop 3-4/2008

Sociologie Românească, Vol. VI, no. 3-4/2008, pp. 101-115.




Is it Red or Green? The construction of social realities through photographs; the physical environment and community of Roşia Montană

Viorica Alina Pop


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Abstract: The guiding idea of this research is that the use of visual material in the analysis of social representations is fruitful, given the importance of image in producing and transmitting knowledge in our multimedia society. This paper is part of a larger research project which aims to study the social representations emerged in an environmental conflict which occurred in Romania after a foreign company proposed a gold mining project in the area of Roºia Montan\. My hypothesis implies that groups involved in this conflict construct polemical representations and compete for influencing others to adopt them, in order to achieve social and political goals. The present study explores the iconic-code of expression of social representations about Roșia Montană site and community generated by the groups in conflict in the process of communication, by focusing on photographic images. Two sets of photographs that institutional actors (an NGO and the mining company) made circulate through internet were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative techniques. Two different realities about Roșia Montană site and people are objectified by means of photographs. It seems that each photo-dossier was aimed to be a retort to the other, indicating the polarization of groups. This situation is stimulating each one to generate a representation of the object, which is occasioned precisely by the existence of the opposition (Moscovici, 1961-1976). The analysis reveals the emergence of two social representations about Roșia Montană, which are highly contrasting and stereotypical, and rooted in general irresistible beliefs. And they both pertain to the communicative genre of propaganda. My study can show how we can analyze the battle of ideas (Moscovici) in the emergence of social representations when divergent ideas are communicated through images.

Keywords: polemical social representations, environmental conflict, visual social representations.

Cuvinte-cheie: reprezentări polemice sociale, conflict ambiental, reprezentări sociale vizuale.