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When collective memories of victimhood fade: Generational evolution of intergroup attitudes and political aspirations in Belgium

Abstract : Collective memory theories propose that groups' remembrances of their past depend upon their current social situation. In Belgium, a significant proportion of Dutch speakers share a collective memory of past victimisation by French speakers and fight for an ever-larger autonomy of their region. Yet, as the respective economic, political and social situations of the linguistic regions of Belgium recently evolved with a reversal of fortunes, the current experience of younger Dutch speakers does not fit the traditional memory anymore. We thus predicted that the collective memories of victimhood would decline amongst them, thus bringing changes in intergroup attitudes and political aspirations. Three generations were compared in a survey of 1226 French-speaking and 1457 Dutch-speaking individuals. For both groups, younger generations evidenced less regionalist and more integrative positions than older ones. However, these effects were stronger for Dutch-speaking respondents, and for them, collective memory of victimhood mediated the relation linking age and identification with Belgium, intergroup attitudes and political aspirations. We concluded that the current social context has decisive consequences for collective remembrances, which, in turn, impact intergroup relations and political attitudes and choices.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02930974
Contributor : Pierre Bouchat <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 7, 2020 - 12:30:51 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 2:56:01 PM

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Bernard Rimé, Pierre Bouchat, Olivier Klein, Laurent Licata. When collective memories of victimhood fade: Generational evolution of intergroup attitudes and political aspirations in Belgium. European Journal of Social Psychology, Wiley, 2015, 45 (4), pp.515-532. ⟨10.1002/ejsp.2104⟩. ⟨hal-02930974⟩

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