Collective memory: conceptual foundations and theoretical approaches

Memory. 2008 Apr;16(3):318-26. doi: 10.1080/09658210701801434.


In order to outline the conceptual landscape that frames discussions of collective memory, three oppositions are proposed: collective memory versus collective remembering; history versus collective memory; and individual memory versus collective remembering. From this perspective collective remembering is viewed as an active process that often involves contention and contestation among people rather than a static body of knowledge that they possess. Collective remembering is also viewed as privileging identity formation and contestation over the sort of objective representation of the past that is the aspiration of formal historical analysis. And finally, while collective remembering involves individual minds, it also suggests something more in the form of socially situated individuals, a claim that can usefully be formulated in terms of how members of a groups share a common set of cultural tools (e.g., narrative forms) and similar content.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation / physiology*
  • Culture
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Theory