Historical Sociology

1499 Words6 Pages
What is the promise of historical sociology? 1. Introduction Historical sociology is a discipline which combines the past and the present in order to find the implications of the things happening today, for the future. This practice was born along with the emergence of sociology in the 16th century with the rise of the era that sociology aimed to explain. Modernity brought multiple historical changes that have transformed Europe; sociology was created in order to explain these changes, their origins and their potential effects on the future of the continent. Consequently, with this kind of process in mind, we can see that the role of historical sociology was to paint a wholesome picture of the major social changes taking place in society.…show more content…
The case narrative approach appears to be the more linear out of the two with a fluid structure concerned with cause and effect relationships. Historical sociology takes into account that we are not entirely free, autonomous actors; instead, we are constrained by the actions and circumstances that were created for us by our ancestors and therefore analyses the past. It then differentiates between mundane everyday activity and events which are of transformative importance in society and localises the origin and cause of the major change. Finally, through the understanding of the past, causes of social change and the current circumstances, historical sociologists are able to consider the implications on the future due to the current social condition. An additional feature of the discipline is using counterfactual analysis that considers alternate scenarios in order to find “the causal power of different social forces” (Lachmann, 2013, p.128). This kind of analysis has been known to aid the making of predictions about the future as well as better informing future decisions. For example, the counterfactual analysis done by Kunz (1997) on the topic of J.F. Kennedy’s assassination stressed the importance to clarify the role of the…show more content…
For example Marx, who has created master concepts, looked at the hierarchal and exchange systems from history and considered the similarities between them in order to explain what kind of change lead to the times he was living in. This kind of analysis allowed him to notice similarities as well as changes in the systems and classes. As a result, Marx was able to predict the downfall of capitalism and the rise of communism however, these predictions were subject to very specific conditions such as class consciousness and the organisation of forces of the proletariat in order to revolt (McLellan, 2000). His analysis includes all of the elements required to constitute it as historic so why did his predictions fail to become reality so far? As Elias (1987) has pointed out the dynamic motions of society are constantly at work so elements such as population size, technological use and efficiency as well as the means of social control we have in place are subject to change at all times. This is something that Marx, when he was writing in 1848, could not predict to the scale that it happens on today therefore, a demand for new, updated social theory is formed. If historical sociology was a more common practice today, it would have the potential to close the gap between the large amount of empirical research and the lack of new social theory as the consideration of the dynamic society combined
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