Sociology Index

Historical Sociology

The resurgence of historical sociology has been one of the most important developments in contemporary sociology and history after a setback due to fascism and Stalinism. What are the main routes of development of historical sociology? - Karl Marx, Max Weber, Evolutionary Psychology, Functionalist Explanation. Historical Sociology studies the past to find out how societies work and change. Historical sociology is deeply divided between explanatory sociological approaches and more empirical evidence approaches. Modernization Theory approaches, late Marxist approaches, historical geography, institutional approaches, cultural history, intellectual history, postcolonial and genealogical approaches.

Themes in historical sociology from state formation, nationalism, social movements, social classes, patriarchy, architectural sociology, sociology of religion and moral regulation. Between sociologists and historians there has existed since the first inception of sociological ideas a sharp difference which grows out of two different sources, a psychological and a scientifico-logical.

Historical Sociology Journals

The Journal of Historical Sociology. - Edited by a distinguished international panel of historians, anthropologists, geographers and sociologists, the Journal of Historical Sociology is both interdisciplinary in approach and innovative in content. History in Focus is a new occasional series taking a thematic approach to history. Each issue is designed to provide an introduction to the chosen topic and to help stimulate interest and debate. The series will concentrate on highlighting books, reviews, web sites and conferences that relate to the theme, in order to provide a quality assured information resource for learning and teaching.

Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society - On-line content, with articles and book reviews on anthropology, environment, and place.

Historical Sociology Abstracts

Have Historical Sociologists Forsaken Theory?
Thoughts on the History/Theory Relationship - JILL QUADAGNO, STAN J. KNAPP, Florida State University - Sociological Methods & Research, Vol. 20, No. 4. (1992)
With the re-emergence of historical sociology as a dominant focus of inquiry has come a renewed interest in more general methodological, theoretical, and epistemological issues that have long occupied debates about the relationship between history and theory. A recently published article by Edgar Kiser and Michael Hechter brings to the fore several core themes in these debates. Kiser and Hechter claim that comparative historical sociologists not only have turned against general theory but theories in general. The authors argue that these conclusions are based on a narrow definition of the enterprise of historical sociology and on an attempt to confine the definition of theory to general laws. In this article, they first demonstrate that historical sociologists have not forsaken theory. Next, they articulate the dilemmas that general theories defined as general laws pose for historical analysis, and finally, they delineate what methodologically selfconscious historical sociologists have identified as the core elements of a temporally grounded historical sociology.

Historical Sociology and Time - RONALD AMINZADE, University of Minnesota
Sociological Methods & Research, Vol. 20, No. 4, 456-480 (1992)
Historical sociologists have criticized their discipline for a tendency to ignore the temporal dimensions of social life, either by studying the correlates of outcomes rather than the character of temporally connected events or by treating events as surface manifestations of large-scale and long-term processes of change. These critiques have led to a reassessment of the value of narratives and to new methods for mapping historical sequences of events. Yet there has been relatively little discussion of the concepts needed to create a more event-centered historical sociology. This article explores the way in which four different concepts of time-duration, pace, trajectory, and cycle-have been used in recent historical social science. These concepts allow one to analyze the temporal characteristics of connected events that constitute long-term historical processes as well as the way in which actors understand and experience the temporal flow of events. They are most useful, the author argues when employed in a manner that is attentive to the understandings of social actors and the problematic reconstruction of the past. These concepts constitute building blocks for the construction of a more event-centered historical sociology.

The Fourth Wave in Historical Sociology: Lessons From and For International Relations
Lawson, George - Presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION.
Abstract: In his groundbreaking study of historical sociology, Dennis Smith argued that there had been three waves of post-war historical sociology, each of which had emerged out of the challenges of a particular historical conjuncture. It is therefore little surprise that the post-Cold War world has seen the emergence of a renewed and re-emboldened historical sociology, both within and beyond IR.

Time-Sensitivity in Comparative-Historical Sociology: Temporality and the Techniques of the Late “Second Wave” -Villegas, Celso - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association
Abstract: As comparative-historical sociology moves towards a “Third Wave,” there are implicit tensions between a more formalized comparative-historical sociology, based on “big questions” and an explicitly critical comparative-historical sociology that focuses on rethinking what were once “given” concepts – race, class, gender, group, etc. . Still, while comparative-historical researchers lead the way in developing advanced small-N methods and theorizing about time, explicit methodological discussions about how the specification of methods and the specification of temporal processes affect each other is few and far between. Bracketing causal inference and hypothesis testing, this paper discusses how the methods and strategies one chooses – descriptive-inferential, nominal, ordinal, and sequence analysis – are related to the types of temporal processes that comparative-historical analysis proposes to be so sensitive about.

Historical Sociology in International Relations: Open Society, Research Programme and Vocation - George Lawsona
Department of Politics, Goldsmiths College, University of London,
International Politics (2007) 44, 343–368.
Abstract: Over the last 20 years, historical sociology has become an increasingly conspicuous part of the broader field of International Relations (IR) theory, with advocates making a series of interventions in subjects as diverse as the origins and varieties of international systems over time and place, to work on the co-constitutive relationship between the international realm and state–society relations in the processes of radical change. However, even as historical sociology in IR (HSIR) has produced substantial gains, so there has also been a concomitant watering down of the underlying approach itself. As a result, it is no longer clear what exactly HSIR entails: should it be seen as operating within the existing pool of available theories or as an attempt to reconvene the discipline on new foundations? This article sets out an identifiable set of assumptions and precepts for HSIR based on deep ontological realism, epistemological relationism, a methodological free range, and an overt normative engagement with the events and processes that make up contemporary world politics. As such, HSIR can be seen as operating as an open society, a research programme and a vocation.

The Debate on Historical Sociology: Rational Choice Theory and Its Critics
by: Edgar Kiser, Michael Hechter
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 104, No. 3. (1998), pp. 785-816.
Abstract: In the past two decades, many sociologists have denied the usefulness of general theories in favor of more particularistic approaches to historical explanation, which makes it difficult to specify both the causal relations and the causal mechanisms that account for social outcomes. This article offers some philosophical and theoretical justifications for the use of general theory in historical analysis and contends that general theory guides the selection of facts, provides a source of generalizable causal mechanisms, facilitates the cumulation of knowledge across substantive domains, reveals anomalies that lead to new questions, and creates the conditions under which existing theories can be supplanted by superior ones. The authors further outline the concrete research practices that flow from their approach and discuss several empirical studies that exemplify these five advantages.

Why Political Economy Needs Historical Sociology
Leonard Seabrookea - International Politics (2007) 44, 390–413.
International Center for Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School
Abstract: Much of the literature in political economy seeks to capture an essential insight into the evolution of political and economic systems to provide a foundation for policy advice. This article suggests that attempts to nut out the kernels of change often restrict rather than expand policy imagination. Three 'fevers' are identified as involved in the narrowing of policy imagination and two 'tonics' are offered to widen it. The three fevers are: (1) viewing the present as natural; (2) seeing history as overtly path dependent; and (3) viewing history as driven by 'Great Men'. These fevers limit our capacity to see political, social, and economic changes that do not conform to conventional theories, as well as distorting our understanding of how the contemporary world works. What policymakers want, more than prediction or recitation of conventional theories, is context to understand how policy can be implemented. Historical sociology provides a way to generate information about the complexities that make events unique, as 'contextual constellations', through two 'tonics': intentional rationality and social mechanisms. With the assistance of these tonics, historical sociology widens political economy's policy imagination.

Which historical sociology? A Response to Stephen Hobden's 'Theorising the International System'
DANIEL NEXON - Review of International Studies (2001), 27:2:273-280 Cambridge University Press
Copyright 2001 British International Studies Association
Abstract: In a recent article in the Review of International Studies, Stephen Hobden does a great service by initiating a critical evaluation of the potential for historical sociology in international relations theory. Hobden considers seminal studies by Michael Mann, Theda Skocpol, Charles Tilly, and Immanuel Wallerstein, and concludes that each is inadequate for building an historical sociology of the international system. Articles such as Hobden's are particularly important in international relations, where many major theories are dependent upon the assumptions and methods of other disciplines. From time to time, we need to ask, in a comparative manner, just how useful such methods and assumptions really are.

Revisiting general theory in historical sociology
Article from:Social Forces Article date:December 1, 2004
The role of general theory in the field of historical sociology has been the subject of a long and heated debate. (1) Although one would not necessarily expect this debate to have produced consensus on the merits of general theories, one might hope it would have "clear[ed] up enough confusion for practitioners to decide where to place their bets" (Gould 2005). Yet, this does not appear to have taken place. The debate has tailed to yield a single, intelligible definition of "general theory," much less a solid understanding of the ways in which general theories are intended to contribute to substantive research.

Romancing the Field: The Marriage of Feminism and Historical Sociology
AVA BARON - Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 17-37
This essay explores the diverse ways that the relationship between feminism and historical sociology has been represented. The author notes some of the ways historical sociology has changed over the past few decades and the ways some researchers have incorporated gender into their analyses. But the author concludes that a "feminist revolution" still has not taken place. The underlying theoretical assumptions of historical sociology, particularly its reliance on traditional theories of social change and class analysis, continue to marginalize gender issues. The relationship of feminism and historical sociology raises the broader question of whether feminism should be integrated into traditional disciplinary approaches or whether such integration threatens the basis for feminist critical inquiry.

From Universal History to Historical Sociology
by J. A. Banks. 1989 The London School of Economics and Political Science.
Abstract: The first two professors of sociology in England thought their major research task to be to examine the writings of historians, anthropologists and others in order to write comparative and evolutionary histories of mankind. The first wave of expansion of sociology after the war changed this emphasis. Small scale studies, using detailed primary sources, traced short-term developments in a selected area of interest. Studies of the here and now dominated sociology for some time. Twenty years later a second wave changed the emphasis again towards theoretical speculation, although the concept of time now held primary place, just as it had before the war. Historical sociology nevertheless languished until the impact of second-wave feminism, with its emphasis on women having been hidden from history, gave it an impetus which promises much in the future.

Transforming Localities Reflections on Time, Causality and Narrative In Contemporary Historical Sociology
Journal article by Larry W. Isaac - Historical Methods, Vol. 30, 1997
In the Call for papers for this thematic issue of Historical Methods, I solicited empirical contributions that demonstrate the theoretical and methodological diversity, novelty, utility, and aesthetic that historical sociologists have brought to a wide variety of substantive areas. The only criterion of appropriateness was that analyses should be grounded theoretically in an inferential logic that is systematic, while taking seriously historical process and temporality. Research approaches employing formal and/or nonformal analytic methods were welcome. Of the many proposals and articles I received, four that best fit the parameters of the call are published here.

Negotiating a Market, Performing Theory: The Historical Sociology of a Financial Derivatives Exchange
Donald MacKenzie, University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Studies
Yuval Millo, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Accounting Department
Abstract: This analysis of the origins and development of a key financial derivatives market, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, suggests that social interaction in such markets generates trust, permits solution of collective action problems, and affects pricing. The growing cognitive complexity of option trading implies that the unaided human being cannot be homo economicus: material means of calculation have become constitutive of economic action, and economic theory has become performative. The empirical history of option pricing falls into three distinct periods, and the paper postulates that "cultural memory" of the 1987 crash explains the pattern of pricing in the most recent period.

HISTORY AND SOCIOLOGY - by Franz Oppenheimer - in: William Fielding Ogburn, Alexander Goldenweiser, The Social Sciences and their Interrelations, Cambridge 1927, - Between sociologists and historians there has existed since the first inception of sociological ideas, even since the time of Condorcet, a sharp difference, a state of battle, which grows out of two different sources - a psychological and a scientifico-logical. - The psychological difference is based on the fact that all the older writing of history viewed and evaluated events from the standpoint of the upper class. It was, as soon as it had grown out of the embryonic stage of writing mere annals or chronicles, of three kinds: first, court historiography, with the clearly set task of glorifying the deeds and creations of the ruler; or secondly, it was clerical philosophy of history, which explained events from the standpoint of the ruling church as the carrying out of a divine plan of salvation, and was for this reason necessarily quietistic, conservative, anti-revolutionary; or finally, it was history-writing of the third estate, which had either already gained control of its state or was at least preparing to do so, and if it had not already attained to complete victory politically, at least it already possessed sufficient economic means to want political control and to be able to force it in the not too distant future. On the other hand, the first representatives of sociological thought viewed things as socialists from below, and this attitude has never been entirely lost by their successors, as for example Comte, who had primarily bourgeois tendencies.

Books On Historical Sociology


Handbook of Historical Sociology Book by Gerard Delanty (Editor), Engin F Isin (Editor)

Vision and Method in Historical Sociology Book by Theda Skocpol (Editor)

Max Weber's Comparative-Historical Sociology Book by Stephen Kalberg

Critical and Effective Histories: Foucault's Methods and Historical Sociology Mitchell Dean

Introduction to Cultural Historical Sociology (Mellen Studies in Sociology) Robert Peter Siemens

Bread and Circuses: Historical Sociology and Political Pluralism - by Paul Veyne, Brian Pearce

Historical Sociology (International Library of Sociology) (Hardcover) Routledge

Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology Book by O. Nigel Bolland

The Rise of Historical Sociology Book by Dennis Smith

Natural Hierarchies: The Historical Sociology of Race and Class Book by Chris Smaje

The Rational Choice Controversy in Historical Sociology Book by Roger V. Gould

Credential Society: A Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification by Randall Collins

Reflexive Historical Sociology (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought, 22)
Book by Arpad Szakolczai

Historical Sociology of International Relations Book by Stephen Hobden, John M. Hobson (Editors)

Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance (Inside Technology) Book by Donald MacKenzie

Family Life and Illicit Love in Earlier Generations : Essays in Historical Sociology
Book by Peter Laslett.