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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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History and Social Science in the West

History and Social Science in the West

(p.199) Chapter 10 History and Social Science in the West
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Kevin Passmore

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the relationship between history and various disciplines within the social sciences. Historians and social scientists shared two related sets of assumptions. The first supposition was of a world-historical shift from a traditional, hierarchical, religious society to a modern egalitarian, rational one. Second, history and social science assumed that progress occurred within nations possessed of unique ‘characters’, and that patriotism provided the social cement without which society could not function. Nevertheless, academic history seemingly differed from social science in that it was untheoretical and predominantly political. Yet historians focused on the nation’s attainment of self-consciousness, homogeneity, and independence through struggle against internal and external enemies—a history in which great men were prominent. Historians and sociologists unwittingly shared versions of grand theory, in which change was an external ‘force’ driven by the functional needs of the system, and in which meaning derived from measurement against theory, rather than from protagonists’ actions and beliefs.

Keywords:   history, social science, traditional society, modern society, patriotism, grand theory

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