Generations And Collective Memory

Paperback | August 31, 2015

byAmy Corning, Howard Schuman

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When discussing large social trends or experiences, we tend to group people into generations. But what does it mean to be part of a generation, and what gives that group meaning and coherence? It's collective memory, say Amy Corning and Howard Schuman, and in Generations and Collective Memory, they draw on an impressive range of research to show how generations share memories of formative experiences, and how understanding the way those memories form and change can help us understand society and history.

Their key finding—built on historical research and interviews in the United States and seven other countries (including China, Japan, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine)—is that our most powerful generational memories are of shared experiences in adolescence and early adulthood, like the 1963 Kennedy assassination for those born in the 1950s or the fall of the Berlin Wall for young people in 1989. But there are exceptions to that rule, and they're significant: Corning and Schuman find that epochal events in a country, like revolutions, override the expected effects of age, affecting citizens of all ages with a similar power and lasting intensity.

The picture Corning and Schuman paint of collective memory and its formation is fascinating on its face, but it also offers intriguing new ways to think about the rise and fall of historical reputations and attitudes toward political issues.

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When discussing large social trends or experiences, we tend to group people into generations. But what does it mean to be part of a generation, and what gives that group meaning and coherence? It's collective memory, say Amy Corning and Howard Schuman, and in Generations and Collective Memory, they draw on an impressive range of resear...

Amy Corning is a research investigator at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She resides in Virginia. Howard Schuman is professor of sociology and research scientist emeritus at the University of Michigan. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, Method and Meaning in Polls and Surveys. He...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:August 31, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022628266X

ISBN - 13:9780226282664

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Authors’ Note
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Meanings of Collective Memory and Generation

Part One. Revising Collective Memories

1. Collective Memories and Counter-Memories of Christopher Columbus
2. Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: Sex, Slavery, and Science
3. Abraham Lincoln: “Honest Abe” versus “the Great Emancipator”

Part Two. The Critical Years and Other Sources of Collective Memory

4. The Critical Years Hypothesis: The Idea and the Evidence
5. Cross-National Replications and Extensions

Part Three. Beyond Critical Years Effects

6. Does Emigration Affect Collective Memory?
7. Generational Experience of War and the Development of New Attitudes
8. Autobiographical Memory versus Collective Memory
9. Collective Knowledge: Findings and Losings
10. Commemoration Matters: The Past in the Present

Closing Reflections

Appendix A: Statistical Testing and Its Limitations
Appendix B: Survey Response Rates
Appendix C: Formal Tests of Critical Years Effects
Appendix D: Robustness of Standard Events Question
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“The methodological depth and breadth of this work is impressive. The authors draw on data from extensive survey research collected over many decades, as well as content analysis of historical documents and media sources. They conduct statistical analysis, qualitative historical analysis, and even natural experiments. Furthermore, they have been able to replicate their findings over and over again. . . . This is the work of exceptionally experienced researchers from whom much can be learned. Scholars and students from a wide range of fields, including history, psychology, political science, and of course, the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, will find this book particularly interesting.”