, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 283-299

Social memories: Steps to a sociology of the past

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This article is an attempt to develop a comprehensive framework to examine memory from a sociological perspective with a particular emphasis on the impersonal, conventional, collective, and normative aspects of the process of remembering. After discussing the social context of remembering as well as various traditions andrules of remembrance, the article examines the process ofmnemonic socialization. It then moves on to identify variousmnemonic communities (the family, the workplace, the ethnic group, the nation) as well as various social sites of memory(documents, stories, photograph albums, archaeological ruins, the calendar). Following a discussion of the way in which holidays allow mnemonic synchronization,the article ends by examining the politics of remembrance as manifested in various mnemonic battlesover the social legacy of the past.