To Remember or to Forget: Political Repression in the Collective Memory of Descendants

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The question of political repression divides society and polarizes public discourse. Understanding political repression through the prism of socio-psychological knowledge is a zone of proximal development for researchers, because the “suicidal nature” of repression, which A.M. Etkind points out, makes it difficult to understand terror, hinders the work of mechanisms that operate in a society that has come into contact with a catastrophe of such magnitude and duration. The study is devoted to the study of social ideas about “repression”, as well as emotional reactions towards repression and the repressed among the descendants of the repressed, i.e., their children and grandchildren. A total of 110 people (61.82% - females) aged 44 to 78 years, 93.63% with higher education, participated in the study. The sample included three groups: the generation of children (21 people, M = 59.52 years; SD = 9.04); the generation of grandchildren (63 people, M = 54.71 years; SD = 7.66); and the control group (26 people, M = 53.65 years; SD = 7.72). A survey in the form of a questionnaire was used, followed by a prototypical analysis of associations, which made it possible to identify the structure of ideas about repression in the three groups. To analyze emotional reactions, a factor analysis of scores on 38 scales was carried out, followed by an analysis on the new variables. The characteristics of the structure of social representations (the core and periphery zones) are consistent with the initial hypothesis that the supposedly traumatic event of repression is perceived as a personal one by the descendants but as a social one by the respondents of the control group. There were no differences in the severity of emotional reactions in relation to the category of “repressions” and “repressed” between the generations. The combined group of descendants significantly differs from the control group in the greater severity of indicators when assessing the category of “repression” by the factors of “Anxiety”, “Depression” and “Grief”, and when assessing the category of “repressed” by the factor of “Grief”. The results of the study of social ideas about the past allow us to talk about the collective memory of repression in two generations of the descendants of the repressed: in the structure of the inner world of generations of descendants, repression is a personal event of family history, colored by sorrowful feelings of varying degrees of intensity and depth.

About the authors

Inna B. Bovina

Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9497-6199

Doctor of Psychology, Professor at the Faculty of Legal Psychology

29 Sretenka St, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation

Tatiana V. Ryabova

Russian State University for the Humanities

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1517-2978

PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Personality Psychology, Vygotsky Institute of Psychology

6 Miusskaya Ploshchad’, bldg 1, Moscow, 127047, Russian Federation

Vladislav Y. Konkin

Medical and Flight Expert Commission

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7325-1829


22 Ulanskii Pereulok, bldg 1, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2021 Bovina I.B., Ryabova T.V., Konkin V.Y.

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