(Empirical) collective memories

December 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Couverture du livre de Maurice Halbwachs, Les ...

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The term “collective memory” was introduced in the early century by Maurice Halbwachs. The key concept is that individual memory and identity are always mediated by some collectivity: for example, a family, a community or a social group. In other words, every step of the memory processes is embedded in the social environment and is influenced by social resources (Halbwachs 1950; Eyerman, 2001; Hirst & Manier, 2008).

Until now, collective memory has been traditionally investigated mainly by philosophers and sociologists. Psychologists have recently begun to study collective remembering in small groups (Hirst and Manier, 2008; Harris et al., 2008; Cuc et al., 2006; Ekeocha and Brennan, 2008),  but what seems to be missing in this research field is a connection between the micro and the macro processes of collective memory building. Indeed, even if some scholars argued that the relationship between individual and collective memory can be examined empirically (Wertsch, 2002; Hirst & Manier, 2008), most of the laboratory-based research carried on so far on memory has tried to understand memory as a context-free and isolated psychological process (Pennebaker and Banasik, 1997).

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