21 March 2012

Must-read paper on collective memory in psychology

In the previous volume of Psychology of Learning and Motivation, “Remembering as social process”, (Vol 40, 2000) an must-read article for those working on collective memory in psychology by Mary Susan Weldon (available here via ScienceDirect)

The article begins: “In 1932, Sir Frederic C. Bartlett published his famous book Remembering.A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. The title makes three interesting points about the study of memory. First, the use of the term remembering rather than memory emphasizes his view that remembering is a process rather than an entity or mental faculty. Second, the title suggests that the study of remembering requires special attention to the experimental methods one uses in psychology. And third, the title implies that remembering is a topic in social psychology. The first two points have been discussed and debated extensively in psychology, both before and after Bartlett's time. But it is the third point that is of interest here. Bartlett's argument that remembering is social has received little serious treatment in psychology, and has had no perceptible influence on how memory has been conceptualized or investigated in mainstream experimental work. Behaviorists sought to understand learning and memory in terms of the stimulus response associations acquired by the individual organism, and modern cognitive psychologists in terms of the mental processes and cognitive structures that comprise the individual mind.
My goal in this chapter is to take a serious look at the proposition that remembering is a social process, and to do so from the perspective of a cognitive psychologist. The main questions I want to explore are, first, what does it mean to characterize remembering as a social process, and second, what does this imply for how one might study memory?”

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