Memory, time and responsibility
Sociology and Social Research University of Milan-Bicocca Milan, Italy
Whilst the dimension of memory has attracted the attention of sociology since the first half of the last century, reflection on responsibility has been able to extend beyond the legal-philosophical sphere only in more recent times. Starting from the 80s sociology showed an interest in responsibility from two main points of view: firstly with reference to globalization processes, which require redefinition of the ways in which ethical-political responsibility is conceptualized; secondly in connection with the renewed attention paid to values in order to understand the dynamics of social action. In parallel, also the concern with memory has assumed new characteristics: the connections between individual and collective memory, between memory and history, together with social, cultural and political interpretations of memory, mark out numerous avenues for analysis.
In light of this new scenario, the paper will focus on the links between memory, responsibility and social change. In particular, both memory and responsibility seem able to counter, though in different ways and forms, the discontinuities produced by the velocity of social time characteristic of contemporary Western societies. Not only can each of them be considered forms of the relationship that people establish with their actions (and emotions); they also appear to be decisive dimensions in the construction of identity and intersubjectivity. Memory and responsibility are fuelled to an equal extent by a privileged relationship with time (explicit for the memory; more covert for responsibility). Decisive in this regard is their shared ability to guarantee permanence. Finally, at the collective level, to be stressed is that where memory is ?alive? (and therefore potentially conflictual), the link established with responsibility appears indivisible: as memory constructs identity, it evokes a responsibility. In this regard, both memory and responsibility appear closely bound up with politics.