The International Joint PhD in Social Representations, Culture and Communication is an international, inter/trans-disciplinary and cross-sectoral PhD program aimed at advanced training in the social sciences. The Doctorate's area of interest lies at the intersection of Social Representation Theory, Cultural Studies and Communication Studies. The Doctorate was created to respond to the challenges posed by the so-called wicked problems to the social sciences in relation to some of the main processes of global transformation underway: environmental sustainability and ecological transition, intercultural relations and changes in health and education, processes of democratization and construction of citizenship, diversity communication and inclusion, with a particular interest in the role of the media and innovation. The PhD promotes research on the symbolic and representational dimension at the base of these themes, through a plurality of investigation methods. The aim is to develop interpretative models of change and intervention strategies that are contextually valid and able to affect reality and socio-cultural policies.

The Doctorate, coordinated by Sapienza, is jointly developed with the University of Iasi (Romania) and Pécs (Hungary), and is governed by Inter-Institutional Agreements, as already defined by the MIUR Decree n. 94 (published on February 8, 2013), by the DM 226/2021, at the art. 27 of the Sapienza regulation (International PhDs), and by the most recent ministerial provisions.
Unique experience at the international level, the doctorate involves and relaunches an already consolidated network of prestigious professors affiliated to international Universities and Research Centers, which makes this program a point of reference for a vast scientific community in the social sciences. 
History and materials of the original network and previous projects are available on the external website europhd.

Signatory universities

Pecs Iasi


Scientific board from (partner institutions):
Bournemouth University; El Manar University Tunis; Jakarta Research Centre on Social Representations; Jesuit Worldwide Learning; Nankai University, Tianjin;  Paris Université Eiffel;  San Sebastian University of Basque Countries; Tianjin University of Technology and Education; UFSC - Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina; Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana; Universidad de Belgrano; Universidad Nacional de San Martin; Universidade de Uberlandia; Università Ca' Foscari Venezia; Università del Salento; Université Aix-Marseille; Université Lumière Lyon II; Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III; University of Coimbra; University of Malta; University of Ottawa

The PhD program is rooted in the solid tradition of studies on Social Representations, opening up to, and intersecting with, the most recent developments in Cultural Studies and Communication. The PhD program is oriented towards inter/trans-disciplinary research on the socio-symbolic dynamics of social construction of reality, on the role of media as cultural actors, and on the relations between "expert" knowledge and knowledge elaborated in the contexts of "everyday life". Combining online and in-presence training and joint supervision practices in an international milieu, the PhD aims to provide a solid theoretical and methodological preparation both for the continuation of research in Italy or abroad, and for the employment in applied public and private sectors.

The training and research path is aimed at providing doctoral students with conceptual tools, methodologies and research techniques necessary for the understanding of communicative, cultural and psycho-social processes of social construction of reality.
(see the study plan for details).

PhD students will acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of the processes of elaboration and structuring of social representations and of the related interpersonal, group and societal communicative processes, also in relation to different social and cultural systems and to identity dynamics. The course will provide advanced knowledge in the fields of social representation theory and its most recent developments, communication sciences, cultural studies, cultural psychology, and social studies in education and development. PhD students will also be required to develop relevant competences and soft skills in the fields of planning, scientific and popular communication and public relations.
A further objective of the PhD program is to foster the ability to apply the knowledge acquired both in research and in public and private sectors that require experts in areas of social sciences and communication with high applicative value. Through a wide range of research training in various thematic areas, national and international social contexts, and through opportunities for international mobility and relationships with non-academic subjects, doctoral candidates will be encouraged to explore possibilities in various professional fields, such as: institutions and research centers; media and communication and information agencies; cultural institutions and industries; social, socio-health and environmental associations and organizations; political institutions; companies operating in the fields of technological and media innovation.
The didactic approach with which these results will be pursued combines online distance and in-presence courses, compulsory international mobility, and research activities with multiple international supervisors, which will ensure educational exposure and collaborative research and exchange opportunities with a large multi-generational scientific community of renowned scholars in various continents. The curriculum includes: lectures, in-depth seminars, intensive weeks, individual and group research work, progress presentations, collegial discussions and peer review. Moreover, training activities are foreseen for the acquisition of technical-application skills, and design training activities aimed at the submission of funding applications for research on competitive calls at European and national level.

On the EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND ONTOLOGICAL level, the PhD program hinges on the rich scientific production concerning the interrelationships between the social construction of knowledge (in its various forms) and the tools and forms of contemporary communication.
By adopting both a nomothetic and an ideographic approach, the PhD aims to contribute to the elaboration of general theoretical models and to the exploration of contextual dynamics of the relationship mind-culture-communication. The theory of Social Representations, Culture Studies and Communication Studies provide the privileged framework within which to investigate the dynamics of interaction between individuals, groups, institutions, in relation to the environment and the different systems of mediation and communication.
The epistemological and ontological goal is to develop a fully interdisciplinary field of study. The research will examine the relationship between the construction of reality and social practices, polyphonic media systems, positioning and anchoring to historical and cultural contexts, differentiating itself on the one hand from approaches oriented to individual cognitions as a-historical and de-contextualized forms, and on the other hand from studies of conversation and discourse as referential systems.
If social representations, frames, narratives and discourse are now consolidated concepts and tools in the toolbox of social sciences, both in psycho-social and sociological fields, the challenge today is to investigate and understand the relationships between these models and the dynamics of elaboration and change in a deeply mediatized reality, in which an increasingly pervasive, convergent and distributed media ecosystem has become the essential ground for the analysis of every communicative and cultural phenomenon, of the link between the subjective experience of the relationship and its collective and social aspect. A cultural project based on this approach, if it has in psychology and sociology the founding fields of knowledge, "naturally" calls as allies different disciplinary approaches, to be integrated in a combined and complementary way.
Starting from this foundation, the PhD intends to address and pursue points of contact and differences with national and international research approaches that in recent years have explored similar typologies of social construction processes, including cultural and linguistic studies, cultural sociology, frame analysis, narrative and critical discourse analysis, etc.. The PhD is therefore intended as a place of theoretical advancement through the study of social representations and cultural constructs of the symbolic sphere (in the multiplicity of forms with which they are produced in human interaction and cultures, and with which they are recognized by different branches of the scientific literature: symbols, metaphors, common sense, frames, images...) that provide meaning to experience by orienting interpretations, and therefore directing action, interaction and social relations.

As for the THEMES, the PhD turns its attention - in the articulation of the program - to complex problems and socially relevant issues in the context of global societies, mediatized and culturally fragmented:
- Environmental sustainability and ecological transition, with primary reference to Sustainable Development Goals and energy transition processes, risk perception and socio-technological innovations;
- Migration and intercultural relations, with reference for example to discursive processes of construction of intergroup relations, stereotyping and inclusion, empowerment practices, agency and advocacy in sensitive areas such as health and education;
- Processes of democratization, cultural heritage and the construction of citizenship, including institutional discourse analysis and political psychology, populism, communication and affectivization of the public sphere, power, peace psychology, projects of change and cultural innovation;
- Diversity communication and inclusion, with particular reference to the role of media and journalistic discourse in the processes of framing and countering discrimination, of women, sexual orientation minorities, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

As far as METHODOLOGY is concerned, the field of research, and therefore the PhD, allows for a pluralistic approach. Resuming the debate between triangulation models and multi-method approaches, PhD students will be provided with skills related to different research designs, for the structural and dynamic analysis of social representations, everyday discourse, communication in relation to social issues of local and global nature. PhD students will be able to implement qualitative and quantitative techniques and tools for text analysis, data collection techniques based on multiple communicative channels (oral, textual, iconic-figurative, multimodality...), discursive and conversational approaches, critical and dialogical analysis perspectives, sociological and ethnographic methodologies, and tools for the study of cultural and communicative dynamics in the contemporary media ecosystem.


Le attività presentate in questa pagina sono finanziate totalmente, o in parte, dai fondi del Piano nazionale di ripresa e resilienza.
L'elenco e le finalità delle attività intraprese dalla Sapienza sono descritte nella pagina dedicata Sapienza per il Pnrr.

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