Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives

By James W. Pennebaker; Dario Paez et al. | Go to book overview

too long and those still committed to Thatcherism ( A. Clark, 1993). Although there was clearly variation within these groups, the association between memory quality and social class was observed in all three separate studies. Further, no evidence was found for Thatcher's generation having better memories for the resignation as was predicted on the basis of Schuman and Scott's analysis.

As noted in the introduction, using surveys has limitations as well as advantages. Due to cost constraints, the number of questions asked was limited. It would have been very useful to have included questions on voting behavior and interest/involvement in politics. With these, the analyses could have been considerably more refined. The assumption that social class is a proxy for group membership is admittedly crude. Notwithstanding these limitations, the results are consistent and statistically reliable.

A final methodological issue is the reliance on only a single political event. It is difficult to generalize from a study of the "Iron Lady" to all major events. As H. H. Clark ( 1973) noted, whereas there is valuable information that can be drawn from the so-called method of single cases, caution on generality is necessary. The diversity of political events and the heterogeneity of the population are such that the resulting memories are likely to reflect this variability as regards to sociodemographic characteristics. It is trite to say that further research is needed, but in such research there is a requirement to explore more political events and to explore in more detail, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the social affinities or group memberships of the respondents. This may help to further understanding of the ways in which memory operates in a social context.


REFERENCES

Abelson R. P. ( 1986). "Beliefs are like possessions". Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour, 16, 223-250.

Brewer W. F. ( 1992). "The theoretical and empirical status of the flashbulb memory hypothesis". In E. Winograd & U. Neisser (Eds.), Affect and accuracy in recall: Studies of "flashbulb" memories (pp. 274-305). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Brown R. ( 1986). Social psychology ( 2nd ed.). London: The Free Press.

Brown R., & Kulik J. ( 1977). "Flashbulb memories". Cognition, 5, 73-99.

Butler D., & Stokes D. ( 1974). Political change in Britain. London: Macmillan.

Christianson S.-Å. ( 1989). "Flashbulb memories: Special, but not so special". Memory and Cognition, 17, 435-443.

Clark A. ( 1993). Diaries. London: Phoenix.

Clark H. H. ( 1973). "The language-as-fixed-effect fallacy: A critique of language statistics in psychological research". Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 12, 335-359.

Conway M. A., Anderson S. J., Larsen S. F., Donnelly C. M., McDaniel M. A., McClelland A. G. R. , Rawles R. E., & Logie R. H. ( 1994). The formation of flashbulb memories. Memory and Cognition, 22, 326-343.

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