The article presents the results of the research project aimed at understanding the phenomenon of “cultural memory” and the cognitive work of ordinary consciousness as part of this phenomenon. For these purposes, the author analyses the results of a formalized survey and free narratives on the topic “Designing the future on the basis of the social past”. The author reveals two modalities of representations about the future: the future as a “bad past” and the future as a “good past”. The author empirically confirms the existence of the cognitive work of ordinary consciousness with the social constructs of macro- and micro-level of society, and puts forward a number of assumptions about the mental operations for which it is capable.

The mass consciousness constructs the image of the “future as a bad past” in the form of an authoritarian ideocracy with market economy. This model includes such features as a single state ideology, enforced consensus and repression; tendency to monarchy, work, housing, health and education guarantees together with income inequalities, shortages of goods and rationing.

The image of the “future as a good past” distinguishes such structures as social institutions and practices; terminal values; instrumental values and behavioral attitudes. However, the majority of the responses reflect human qualities, mainly ethical, related to the pre-Soviet and Soviet periods: honor, nobility, dignity; heroism, courage, collectivism.

Keywords: cultural memory, everyday consciousness, cognitive activity, past, future