Maurice Halbwachs' concept of memory: A critical analysis
sociology Centre for Fundamental Sociology (State University - Higher School of Economics) Moscow, Russia
Recently one can observe the development of a relatively new field of knowledge, the memory studies. The basic notion for memory studies is the concept of collective memory introduced by French sociologist M. Halbwachs in his work "The social framework of memory" (1925). The basic presupposition of the study is that "collective memory" as a concept can not be used productively without any changes because a lot has changed in social theory and in the society as well since the time when the notion was introduced by Halbwachs. Thus further insights into the problems of collective memory, its relationship with the present situation, culture, politics, etc. would be more effective if the basic notion and the theoretical background of the memory studies could be reconsidered.
The research consists of two parts. The first part is the complex description of the logical construction of the concept of collective memory and theoretical logic of Halbwachs' theory. Based on works by Durkheim, Bergson, Halbwachs and the followers of the latter, the study proposes a profound understanding of the concept of collective memory, its development and evolution. The second part is a critical review. After gaining the understanding of the concept another point of view on the topic of memory in the society is provided and critique of the theory of Halbwachs from this new standpoint is presented.
The result of this research is a revised concept of collective memory. Its opportunities and limitations are revealed and the implications of such a revision for the memory studies are discussed.