Historical Social Research

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Stefan Benz: Measurable Effects of Denominations on Narrative Patterns. The German Case of Diversity in Narrating Histories. [Abstract]

There is a view, which I have used as the premise for this paper, that historical thinking is evident within the narratives of societies as historically existing entities. These narrations can be gathered empirically and analyzed for underlying structures. A more common research approach, however, is to assume a priori that these structures exist and then to look at value judgments from which they can be inferred. In this way, various quantitative studies have been carried out that polled the opinions of European, and in particular German and Turkish, youths and young adults. These have shown that amongst Germans there is ostensibly a strong desire for change, from which one can infer an underlying narrative pattern of history as progress. Indirect questioning hints at a lacking link with tradition among young Germans and even more so in some other Western European cultures, mainly those with a distinctly Protestant imprint. In this paper I will establish a link between first, these opinion polls, second, the results of psephology since the 1950s and third, additional supporting historical evidence in order to argue that there is a structural difference between the narratives of German Protestants and Catholics, with Catholics showing a stronger tendency towards tradition.

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