Charlotte Linde

in Working the Past

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780195140286
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199871247 | DOI:

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This chapter introduces the question of how institutions use narrative to remember, showing the importance not only of stories but of occasions on which they can be told. It reviews the key questions of the literatures in different disciplines that treat institutional or collective memory. The most general question is whether institutions can be said to remember. History's question is Whose past? The social sciences' question is How do social structures reproduce themselves? Business and management studies' practical question is How to keep the knowledge while losing the people? This chapter argues that institutions and their members do not mechanically reproduce the past. Rather, they work the past, reshaping stories to create a desired present and future. Therefore, to understand narratives in institutions, it is necessary to understand both the stories that are told, and the occasions of their telling.

Keywords: working the past; institutional memory; collective memory; social memory; narrative occasions; remembering; memory

Chapter.  6599 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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