Numarul 14/2004

Social Representations of Poverty in the Mexican groups. The importance of social thinking

Joi, 1 Martie 2007

María Estela Ortega Rubi

Abstract: Due to the increasing social inequalities, poverty is at the core of social debates. However, the analyses of poverty remain in an epistemologically constrained realm, indicating a predilection for economical explanations, in the detriment of an apprehension of the social dimension. The classic studies have neglected a major aspect of the poverty problem, that of its social representation, fundamental in understanding the real stakes. Poverty is detached from its social and cultural context, from its everyday signification. What is poverty? Who are the poor? Compared to whom? What type of poverty are they subjected to? These questions have not ceased to preoccupy experts. This psycho-social study has the goal of analyzing the social representations of poverty in terms of the way in which the subjects think, perceive and experience poverty, acting as systems of appropriation and interpretation of reality, allowing individuals to guide their own behavior and practices. This study is divided into two parts. A qualitative method was applied, using semidirective interviews, content analysis, and a semantic approach through free association. Our population is composed of different groups of the Mexican society: the middle class; a population involved in fighting poverty in the context of non-governmental organizations; and those considered as poor. Results reveal a duality of social representations of poverty. In effect, we found a social-structural representation of poverty and a cultural-religious- moral one, two manners of thinking and experiencing poverty, two social representations that together are combined in a complex society, characterized by a historical and cultural syncretism.

Résumé: Conséquence du creusement des inégalités sociales, la pauvreté accapare le débat social. Fondés sur une analyse épistémologique marquée par une prédilection pour les explications économiques, au détriment d’une appréhension de la dimension sociale, les travaux traditionnels négligent une question majeure de la pauvreté, celle de sa représentation sociale, fondamentale pour saisir ses véritables enjeux. La pauvreté est détachée de son contexte social et culturel, de sa signification quotidienne. Qu’est-ce que c’est la pauvreté? Qui est pauvre? Par rapport à qui? Quel type de pauvreté? Des questions sur lesquelles ne cessent de se pencher les spécialistes. Cette étude psychosociale a pour ambition d’analyser les représentations sociales, à savoir la façon dont les sujets pensent, perçoivent et ressentent la pauvreté, fonctionnant comme des systèmes d’appropriation et d’interprétation de la réalité permettant aux individus de guider leurs comportements et leurs pratiques. La méthode suivie est qualitative, s’’appuyant sur des entretiens semi-directifs, une analyse de contenu et l’’approche sémantique de l’’association libre. L’’échantillon est composé de quelques groupes de la société mexicaine: la couche sociale moyenne; une population impliquée dans la lutte contre la pauvreté au sein des organisations nongouvernementales, et la population considérée comme les pauvres. Nous montrons ici une dualité de la représentation sociale: une représentation structurelle-sociale de la pauvreté, l’’autre culturelle-religieuse-morale. Les deux représentations sociales se côtoient, se mélangent dans une société complexe, marquée par un syncrétisme historique et culturel.

Rezumat: Ca urmare a adâncirii inegalitãţii sociale, sãrãcia a devenit un subiect de dezbatere publicã. Fondate pe o analizã epistemologicã marcatã de o predilecţie pentru explicaţiile economice în detrimentul unei abordãri a dimensiunii sociale, cercetãrile tradiţionale neglijeazã o temã majorã a sãrãciei, aceea a reprezentãrii sale sociale, fundamentalã pentru înţelegerea adevãratelor mize. Sãrãcia este detaşatã de contextul social şi cultural, de semnificaţia sa cotidianã. Ce este sãrãcia? Cine este sãrac? În comparaţie cu cine? Ce fel de sãrãcie? Acestea sunt probleme asupra cãrora nu înceteazã sã se aplece specialiştii. Studiul de faţã are ambiţia de a analiza reprezentãrile sociale, modul în care subiecţii gândesc, percep şi îşi reprezintã sãrãcia. Reprezentãrile funcþioneazã ca sisteme de interpretare a realitãţii, ce permit indivizilor sã-şi orienteze comportamentele şi practicile. Am utilizat metode calitative, sprijinindu-mi demersul pe interviuri semidirective, pe o analizã de conţinut şi pe abordarea semanticã a asociaţiilor libere. Eşantionul este compus din câteva grupuri ale societãţii mexicane: pãtura socialã mijlocie, o populaţie implicatã în lupta contra sãrãciei în cadrul unor organizaþii nonguvernamentale şi, în sfârşit, o populaţie consideratã sãracã. Se remarcã dualitatea reprezentãrii sociale: o reprezentare social-structuralã a sãrãciei şi a alta cultural-religios-moralã. Cele douã reprezentãri sociale evolueazã împreunã, se amestecã într-o societate complexã cum este cea mexicanã, marcatã de un sincretism istoric şi cultural.

Înapoi