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Memories of war: Sources of Vietnam veteran pro- and antiwar political attitudesAuthor(s): David Flores
Source: Sociological Forum. 29(1): 98-119.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionThe sources of political attitudes are among the most studied phenomena of modern politics. Moving away from the traditional focus on party systems, the demographic characteristics of voters, or political socialization, I consider instead how memory and narrative shape political consciousness. Specifically, I focus on how culturally sanctioned memories of warfare influence the political attitudes of 24 Vietnam veterans. I compare two groups of Vietnam veterans who went to Vietnam in support of the war and political status quo, but who returned with opposing attitudes toward war. How can we understand these contrasting outcomes? Specifically, how do memories of war shape political attitudes? Antiwar veterans relate similar narratives of having their idealistic views of war challenged and experiencing a major rethinking of their support when they learn the true nature of warfare. On the other hand, pro-war veterans share a patterned narrative of indifference rather than idealism when describing their continued support of the war and political status quo after they return from Vietnam. I conclude by arguing that memory and narrative are an important mechanism for shaping political attitudes.
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CitationFlores, David. 2014. Memories of war: Sources of Vietnam veteran pro- and antiwar political attitudes. Sociological Forum. 29(1): 98-119.
Keywordscognition, memory, narrative, political attitudes, Vietnam veterans, war
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