Publication details

Legal Concepts as Social Representations

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Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source International Journal for the Semiotics of Law-Revue Internationale de Semiotique Juridique
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

Web Open access časopisu
Keywords Concept; Legal concept ; Social representation; Meaning-making; Social dimension of meaning; Mental representation; Legal language
Description The nature of concepts is a subject of study of various disciplines, from philosophy to cognitive sciences, leading to fragmented understandings and conceptual dissociations. Legal concepts have been studied in an interdisciplinary manner across all these disciplines, suffering from similar fragmentation. Recently, the interdisciplinary crossroads between law and cognitive sciences have brought forward the notion of legal concepts as mental representations. However, this approach largely overlooks the systemic, historical, and societal elements essential to comprehending legal concepts. The aim of this paper is to advocate for the Social Representations Theory as a useful framework that bridges cognitive and socio-cultural dimensions of meaning and can provide a holistic approach to understanding legal concepts. This paper unfolds in three sections. The first section contextualizes the social representations approach within the law and language framework, emphasizing the societal influences on thought and meaning. The second section explains the notion of social representations, building upon Serge Moscovici’s definitions and Ivana Marková’s arguments for the necessity of this approach to accommodate the social dimension of meaning. The third and last section underscores the claim that legal concepts are, in essence, social representations, advocating for the usefulness of this approach in legal scholarship, both paradigmatically and methodologically, consequently arguing for an inclusion for a stronger focus on the social dimension of legal meaning.
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