The mute zone of social representation regarding persons with special needs in Romania. Substitution indications

Florin Botoşineanu


This paper presents the results of research conducted in the years 2008-2009, which proposed to outline the social representation regarding people with special needs and, in a subjacent way, to highlight the mute zone in social representation regarding disabled persons, by using a methodology specific to this type of approach (the substitution method). The subjects answered a series of questionnaires that combined the classical method of free association (Le Bouedec, 1984) with a categorical and prototypical technique (Vergès, 1992; Abric & Vergès, 1994, etc.) in order to underline the social representation structure of the disabled person, as well as with the substitution technique, that facilitates the observation of counter-normative elements and the knowledge of the mute zone in the social representation regarding the disabled person. The research managed to delimit – for the first time in Romania – the social representation regarding the person with special needs, as well as the mute zone of this representation, thus following the line of the preferred subjects and the current research methods within social European psychology. This study reveals how, perpetuating normative messages, the public discourse, as the carrier and transmitter of best practices, strengthens social censorship when it comes to expressing our discriminatory attitudes and beliefs, designing the disabled person as a socially sensitive object.

social representation, the mute zone in the representation, disability, substitution method, counter-normative elements

Florin Botoşineanu – Al. I. Cuza University, Iaşi, Romania, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences E-mail:

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