Collective memory is the matrix of cohesion of social groups, however vast they may be, through which group continuity in time is at once attested and reaffirmed. If it is also in time that mutation and discontinuity with the past occur and are later grasped, group perception of discontinuity nonetheless presupposes an underlying continuity or sameness in the remembering collectivity in relation to which discontinuity may be placed in relief. The present chapter focuses on the temporal conditions of this cohesion which are analyzed in terms of the reiterative time of habitual, socially instituted forms of interaction, the commemorative time of unique, socially significant events, and the time of the êthos or habitus in which long-term continuities are forged and reelaborated. If all three of these temporal articulations structure socially meaningful action, each of them also comports a passive dimension which this chapter aims to place in relief. The patterning of social activity according to these articulations establishes lines of continuity between past and present in view of a common future. As numerous examples cited in this chapter illustrate, interpretation of the continuity of collective memory has become a source of illusions of social homogeneity and of contemporary political mythologies.
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