historical sociology


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historical sociology

  1. any sociology focused particularly on the study of past societies or using historical sources.
  2. more particularly, those forms of comparative sociology which focus on historical societies, and on order and change within these societies (see also COMPARATIVE METHOD). Historical sociology in this second sense, after falling out of fashion (see HISTORICISM, EVOLUTIONARY THEORY, SOCIAL CHANGE), has come into vogue again in recent decades as the result of major works by such authors as MOORE and WALLERSTEIN in the US, and, in the UK, ANDERSON, MANN and ELIAS. There is also a sense in which all general theories of social change are historical sociologies. It is in this context that partisans of historical sociology such as P. Abrams (1982), argue that it forms the central core of traditional sociology, and that its importance should be reasserted in modern sociology. An informative survey of the range of recent historical sociology is D. Smith The Rise of Historical Sociology (1991). See also HISTORY.
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