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Social representations of memory and gender in later medieval England

Kane, Bronach ORCID: 2012. Social representations of memory and gender in later medieval England. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science 46 (4) , pp. 544-558. 10.1007/s12124-012-9220-0

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Social representations in later medieval culture have attracted little attention amongst psychologists, pre-dating the development of the so-called ‘public sphere’ in the eighteenth century. In addition, the association of pre-modern societies with ‘traditional’ modes of communication in social psychology places implicit limits on areas that may be studied through the lens of social representation theory. This article analyses the way in which knowledge circulated in late medieval society, noting initially the plural nature of representations of events and marginal groups, and the myriad channels through which beliefs were consolidated. In later medieval England perceptions of the past depended on collective and group memory, with customary rights and local histories forged through ‘common knowledge’, hearsay and the opinions of ‘trustworthy men’ of the village. The final section of this commentary provides an analysis of testimony from the late medieval church courts, in which witnesses articulated gender ideologies that reflected perceptions drawn from everyday life. Social representations of women were thus deployed in ecclesiastical suits, on the one hand supporting evidence of female witnesses and on the other justifying misogynistic stereotypes of women’s behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social representation theory; Medieval history; Communication; Memory studies; History of emotions; Gender studies
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1932-4502
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 07:57

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