Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Collective representation

core definition

Collective representation is a term used in Durkheimian analysis to refer to institutions and structural forms like church and state.

explanatory context

Such collective representations embody the moral values of the conscience collective and implemented the social currents.

analytical review

Raynet Sociology Glossary (undated):

Collective representations: From Emile Durkheim's sociology. It refers to a symbol having common-shared meaning (intellectual and emotional) to members of a social group or society. Collective representations are first and foremost, historical - that is, they reflect the history of a social group; the collective experiences of a group over time. Collective representations refer not only to symbols in the form of objects (such as the American flag), but also to the basic concepts that determine the way in which an individual views and relates to the world in which he lives. God is a collective representation, as are time and space, for example. The particular function that collective representations serve for society or social groups in expressing the collective sentiments or ideas that give the social group or society its unity and uniqueness is that of producing social cohesion or social solidarity. This is not surprising, for one of the central concerns of Durkheim's functional sociology was social solidarity or social order.


The McGraw-Hill (2004) Sociological Theory site Glossary defines collective representation as:

The collective concepts and images through which society reflects on itself. For Durkheim, these representations also constitute a social force that motivates or constrains us. (Durkheim)

associated issues


related areas

See also



McGraw-Hill, 2004, Sociological Theory: Glossary , available at, accessed 14 May 2013, page not available 14 December 2016.

Raynet Sociology Glossary, undated, available at, no longer available 20 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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