Social Representations of the Body: Theory, Facts and Commentary (Part 1)



The aim of the presented study was to identify so called “mute” elements of social representations of the body. The sample consisted of representatives of the BDSM subculture at the age of 19 to 54 years (N=77 people, 40% women). The free association technique was used in order to reveal the social representations of the body. The obtained results indicate that the body (in groups of males and females) is represented through the antimony “man-woman” with the resulting attributes of each pole (“strength”- “beauty”), so the social representations of the body are crystallized around the corresponding elements: beauty - in the key element of the female body in the group of women, strength and muscles are the key elements in case of the male body in the group of men. In each case the normative and idealized representations of the body are revealed. In each case we can speak about normative and idealized representation of the body. The mute zone of the social representation (genital area) suits the logic of the male body vision, if we take into account the analysis of the male body through the prism of cultural history.

General Information

Keywords: social representations, body, “mute zone” of social representations

Journal rubric: Interdisciplinary Studies

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Scientific Foundation (RSF), project number 22-28-00661.

Received: 21.02.2024


For citation: Dvoryanchikov N.V., Melnikova D.V., Belova E.D., Bovina I.B. Social Representations of the Body: Theory, Facts and Commentary (Part 1) [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i pravo = Psychology and Law, 2024. Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 219–238. DOI: 10.17759/psylaw.2024140216. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Bovina I.B., Dvoryanchikov N.V., Melnikova D.V., Lavreshkin N.V. K voprosu ob issledovanii sotsial’nykh predstavlenii: vzglyad so storony [Studying Social Representations: an Outsider’s Perspective] [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sotsial’naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2022. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 8–25. doi:10.17759/sps.2022130302 (In Russ.).
  2. Bovina I.B., Dvoryanchikov N.V., Melnikova D.V., Lavreshkin N.V., Budykin S.V. Telo: s pozitsii teorii sotsial’nykh predstavlenii [Body: Social-Representational Regard] [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i parvo = Psychology and Law, 2023. Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 191–206. doi:10.17759/psylaw.2023130114 (In Russ.).
  3. Kon I.S. Muzhskoe telo v istorii kul’tury. Moscow: Slovo, 2003. 432 p. (In Russ.).
  4. Courtine J.-J. Vvedenie. In A. Corbin, J.-J. Courtine, G. Vigarello (Eds.). Istoriya tela: V 3 t. T. 3: Peremena vzglyada: XX vek = Histoire du corps. Les mutations du regard le XXe siècle. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2016, pp. 5–8. (In Russ.).
  5. Moulin A.-M. Telo s tochki zreniya meditsiny. In A. Corbin, J.-J. Courtine, G. Vigarello (eds.). Istoriya tela: V 3 t. T. 3: Peremena vzglyada: XX vek = Histoire du corps. Les mutations du regard le XXe siècle. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2016, pp. 11–62. (In Russ.).
  6. Abric J.-C. La recherche du noyau central et de la zone muette des représentations sociales. In J.-C. Abric (Ed.). Méthodes d’étude des représentations sociales. Ramonville Saint-Agne: Erès, 2003, pp. 59–80.
  7. Aim M.-A., Dany L., Dvoryanchikov N.V., Bovina I.B. How Kids Understand Health and Illness: Some Reflections from and for the Theory of Social Representations. Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2018. Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 15–22. doi:10.17759/chp.2018140102
  8. Bertrand V. Représentations sociales du confinement de mars 2020 lors de la pandémie liée à la COVID-19 chez une population d’étudiants et d’enseignants. Étude exploratoire comparative [Social representations of the March 2020 lockdown during the COVID-19-related pandemic in a population of students and teachers: A comparative exploratory study]. Revue CONFLUENCE: Sciences & Humanités, 2022. Vol. 1. P. 109–125.
  9. Bovina I., Dvorianchikov N., Melnikova D., Lavreshkin N. Social Representations of Body: A Comparison in The Two Generations of Russian Women (Results of an Exploratory Study). International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education, 2022. Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 185–195. doi:10.23947/2334-8496-2022-10-2-185-195
  10. Camargo B. V., Goetz, E. R., Bousfield A. B. S., Justo A. M. Representações sociais do corpo: estética e saúde. Temas em Psicologia, 2011. Vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 257–268.
  11. Camargo B. V., Wachelke J. The study of social representation systems: relationships involving representations on aging, AIDS and the body. Papers on Social Representations, 2010. Vol.19, pp. 21.1–21.21.
  12. Costalat-Founeau A.M., Picot M. C., Hauchard D., Klimekova M., Favier F. Représentation du corps et de l’alimentation chez une population de femmes de plus de 75 ans. Papers on Social Representations, 2002. Vol. 11, pp. 4.1–4.20.
  13. de Rosa A.S., Holman A. Social representations of female-male beauty and aesthetic surgery: a cross-cultural analysis. Temas em Psicologia, 2011.Vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 75–98.
  14. de Souza-Filho E. A., Beldarrain-Durandegui A. The contextual analysis in social representations of the body among ethnic groups in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Universitas Psychologica, 2009. Vol 8, no. 3, pp. 771–783.
  15. Flament S., Rouquette M.-L. Anatomie des idées ordinaires. Paris: Armand Colin, 2003. 176 p.
  16. Goetz E.R., Camargo B.V., Bertoldo R.B., Justo A.M. Representação social do corpo na mídia impressa. Psicologia & Sociedade, 2008. Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 226–236. doi:10.1590/S0102-71822008000200010
  17. Guest E., Zucchelli F., Costa B., Bhatia R., Halliwell E., Harcourt D. A systematic review of interventions aiming to promote positive body image in children and adolescents. Body Image, 2022. Vol. 42, pp. 58–74. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.04.009
  18. Herzlich C. A journey in the field of health: From social psychology to multidisciplinarity. Journal of Health Psychology, 2018. Vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 386–396. doi:10.1177/1359105317709474
  19. Jodelet D. Madness and social representations: Living with the mad in one French community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. 316 p
  20. Jodelet D. The representation of the body and its transformations. In Farr R., Moscovici S. (eds.). Social Representations. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,1984, pp. 211–238.
  21. Körner R., Schütz A. Power, Self-Esteem, and Body Image. Social Psychology, 2023. Vol. 54, pp. 136–150. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000510
  22. Moliner P. Histoire et dynamique de la théorie des représentations sociales. La dissémination de la théorie. Deuxième Conférence Internationale sur l’Histoire de la Psychologie Sociale. Dijon. 24—25 Novembre, 2022 [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psy DREPI - YouTube. URL: (Accessed 26.04.2024).
  23. Moliner P., Lo Monaco G. Méthodes d’association verbale pour les sciences humaines et sociales. Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2017. 190 p.
  24. Moscovici S. In C. Herzlich. Health and illness. A social psychological analysis. London: Academic Press, 1973, pp. ix–xiv.
  25. Moscovici S. La psychanalyse: son image et son public. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1976. 652 p.
  26. Moscovici S., Vignaux G. Le concept de thêmata. In C. Guimelli (ed.). Structures et transformations des représentations sociales. Paris: Delachaux et Niestlé, 1994, pp. 25–72.
  27. Novikova I.A., Berezina E., Sachkova M., Dvoryanchikov N. To be scared or not to be scared: Social representations of COVID-19 in young people (A cross-cultural study). Social Science, 2024. Vol. 13, no. 1. doi:10.3390/socsci13010062
  28. Rateau P., Lo Monaco G. The Mute Zone of Social Representations and the Effects of (Un) Masking: Review and Prospects. RUDN Journal of Psychology and Pedagogics, 2021. Vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 375–390. doi:10.22363/2313-1683-2021-18-2-375-390
  29. Rodgers R.F., Rousseau A. Social media and body image: Modulating effects of social identities and user characteristics. Body Image, 2022. Vol. 41, pp. 284–291. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.02.009
  30. Secchi K., Camargo B.V., Bertoldo R.B. Percepção da Imagem Corporal e Representações Sociais do Corpo. Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, 2009. Vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 229–236. doi:10.1590/s0102-37722009000200011
  31. Silveira A., Camargo B., Giacomozzi A. Social Representations of the Body and Bodily Care Practices of Older Adults. Psico-USF, Bragança Paulista, 2021. Vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 279–290. doi:10.1590/1413-82712021260207
  32. Souza S.C.S.D., Ribeiro R.D., Polli G.M., Wanderbroocke A.C. Social representations of the body and health for physically active and inactive individuals. Trends in Psychology, 2019. Vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 961–975. doi:10.9788/TP2019.4-10
  33. Williams D., Sprott R.A. Current Biopsychosocial Science on Understanding BDSM / Kink. Current Opinion in Psychology, 2022. 48, no. 3. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101473

Information About the Authors

Nikolay V. Dvoryanchikov, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Dean, Faculty of Legal and Forensic Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Darya V. Melnikova, Lecturer, Department of Clinical and Forensic Psychology, Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Evgeniya D. Belova, Specialist, Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Inna B. Bovina, Doctor of Psychology, Research Director, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical and Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 50
Previous month: 0
Current month: 50


Total: 20
Previous month: 0
Current month: 20