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La mémoire du collectif. Recherche sur la mémoire ouvrière : deux générations de métallurgistes à Vierzon

Abstract : In his work La Classe ouvrière et les niveaux de vie (1912), the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs (1877-1945) elaborated a theory about social classes in which he justified some hierarchy among them by proving the existence of a « central hearth» : the more integrated the classes are, the closer they are from the hearth. According to Halbwachs, the working class is the most remote from the centre because of the isolation of the worker regarding the lifeless material in front of him during his working day at the factory. By criticizing Halbwachs theory about social classes – and more precisely what I called his « conceptual model of the working class » – I tried to link my research, the working memory, to Halbwachs theory about memory (Les Cadres sociaux de la mémoire : 1925 ; La Mémoire collective : 1950). This led me to highlight – against Halbwachs – the fact that if the individual memory is different from the social or collective one, the first being a mental faculty able to rememoration, and the second a rhetorical metaphor for a transcendental social object, this social memory needs to express through individual memories, the only ones we can observe. Leaning on an empirical material, more precisely a biographic research on two generations of steelworkers in Vierzon, I was able to state that there is a third object, that I will call « memory of the collective », between the individual memory and the collective or social one, and that takes shape of a kind of trend of memory. In other words,the memory of the collective is close to the capture of the collective memory by the individual one.This capture is linked to a contemporaneousness and a social condition of living (with differences between men and women, generations...). It includes three « social operations of the memory » : « the memorisation », « the rememoration » and « the commemoration ». As a consequence the analysis of the « memory items » allows to show that for instance what we call social domination of the working class is not linked to a central hearth as Halbwachs wrote but comes from an opposition between classes.
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Contributor : Laurent Aucher <>
Submitted on : Saturday, September 12, 2020 - 4:37:12 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:05:57 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-02937129, version 1


Laurent Aucher. La mémoire du collectif. Recherche sur la mémoire ouvrière : deux générations de métallurgistes à Vierzon. Sciences de l'Homme et Société. Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, 2013. Français. ⟨tel-02937129⟩



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