Wagner, W. (1993).
Can representations explain social behaviour?
A discussion of social representations as rational systems.
Papers on Social Representations, 2, p. 236-249.


Two propositions are presented in order to show that social representations cannot be regarded as explanations of behaviour: First it is argued that rational beliefs, decisions, and acting necessarily involve socially constructed knowledge which gains its evidence by collective consensus. Social Representations are considered as one form of collectively validated rational knowledge. Second it is shown that social psychological theories containing common-sense or everyday-rational knowl­edge cannot be interpreted as explanatory theories in the strict sense of the term. Additionally, experi­ments aimed at empirically proving hypotheses deduced from such theories are not a proof, but an "illustration" or "example" of the rational context. Taken together the two propositions lead to the conclusion that rational beliefs and rational behaviour are inseparable from each other, such that a specific belief cannot be used as an explanation of subsequent related behaviour. Equally, social repre­sentations do not explain, but describe related behaviour.