Perceptions of the Past

For the survey, I chose a close friend of mine to interview. Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology, I know that the subject has taken several history classes and is interested in history. This interest gives the interviewee a knowledge base that could contribute to the conversation without being too knowledgeable. Overall, their responses were not surprising. As they live in a small rural environment and the responses reflected the culture of the area they live. When asked about what was important, family history as well as first-hand experiences and oral history. This reflected when asked about the accuracy of historical media. In their responses, they showed fair levels of trust in first-hand experiences, museums, collegiate professors, and academic books, but doubted the other forms.

Overall, the survey was very straightforward and concise. There were areas that promoted further discussion, but some allowed more room for dead ends. This is a common occurrence in broad surveys and not surprising but, in this instance, it did not have much impact on the interview. Even if in another case the conversation did fall flat, I could probably still use the information as that area probably meant less to an individual; which is a data set within itself.

While the survey is good for developing a wide view of individuals’ perceptions of history, one of the things I like about the survey is how it can be easily tailored just by placing emphasis on certain categories or by asking more follow-up questions in a particular section. My biggest concern with the modern use of the survey is the change in time. Since the survey was first published, a lot has changed in the world in regard to the types of available media and how the media is culturally perceived. Specifically, social media and video games. I personally interact with several historical based social media pages and well as play a fair share of historical based video games. The modern “meme” culture also plays an impact on the accessibility, and exposure, to history that many see. If I were running this survey as a member of a historical site or a museum, I would also add follow-up questions about historical sites other than just the occasions that the subject has visited them. These questions could be from the use of technology, the perceptions of “modern” versus traditional experiences, to even something such as perceived relevance of these types of institutions.

One Comment

  1. Great articulation of the changing perception of this kind of survey. Do you think contemporary engagement with history is any more or less intensive or extensive? I wonder about this especially given your smart observations about meme culture which some might see as only a kind of passing interest or participation.


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