Theoretical Conceptualisation of Collective Memories in Sociology and Related Social Sciences

Andriana Benčić


Collective memory is a trans-disciplinary concept and scholars have approached it from the fields of sociology, history, political science, psychology, among other disciplines. Thus, social memory studies are an intellectually far-reaching field, but nevertheless, or perhaps as a result, also an evasive field without clear focus and efficient analytical evaluation of research problems as well as research subjects and approaches. The aim of this paper is to examine the conceptualisation of collective memories in relation to sociology and related social sciences. Therefore, the goal is to explain and sharpen collective memory theoretical tools for their further use in theory and research. Accordingly, we will examine definitions offered by J. Olick (Olick, 1999; Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, & Levy, 2011b), A. Confino (1997) and B. French (2012). Collective memories, therefore, could be seen as changeable and dynamic images of the past, mediated through concerns of the present, in response to various social and political factors. Besides, collective memories are a social construction constituted through a multiplicity of circulating sign forms, with interpretations shared by some social actors and contested by others in response to heterogeneous positions in a hierarchical social field. In the so-called memory battlefield political elites often play a predominant role, while others confront difficulties in articulating their voices.


collective memories, the politics of memory, sociology, social constructivism, identity and power

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096