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21 October: Dr Anton Popov, Sociology and Policy group, Aston University

Mnemonic socialisation and intergenerational production of political heritage: perspectives from Britain, Russia and Spain

Abstract

The paper puts forward the argument that ‘political heritage’ needs to be interrogated in a similar way as cultural and or historical heritage that represent the field for contesting meanings of identity and power relationships in society. Heritage studies demonstrate that cultural and historical importance of heritage sites have become battle grounds for struggle over representation and re-negotiation of meanings of national identities. In a similar vein, political socialisation is not just a matter of transmission the views, values, ideas and practices from the older to younger generations but rather re-evaluation and re-interpretation of what is seen as national political heritage. This process is closely linked with mnemonic socialisation and is part of ‘politics of memory’. Drawing on intergenerational interviews with family members in Russia, Spain and Britain, the paper argues that whereas political socialisation is ultimately context-dependent (three case studies are selected partly to exemplify these contextual differences), there are common aspects in how political heritage is transmitted, re-assessed, re-define and effectively re-produced intergenerationally across three countries. Family mnemonic culture plays central role in this process: remembrance and deliberation always frame the context of political socialization that is the act of receiving, enforcing, or reshaping ones political views. Nevertheless, our findings demonstrate that family memories rarely directly influence political participation; rather they are indicative of ideological and political socialisation processes that occur between family members and their wider societal circles. Thus political socialisation in the family has to be seen as a multi-directional process that implies that young people can also act as initiators of intergenerational transmission of political heritage.