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The Uses of History in Sociology: Reflections on Some Recent Tendencies

John H. Goldthorpe
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 42, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 211-230
DOI: 10.2307/590368
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590368
Page Count: 20
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The Uses of History in Sociology: Reflections on Some Recent Tendencies
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Abstract

This paper questions the now widely held view that no meaningful distinctions are to be drawn between the disciplines of history and sociology. It is argued that one -- highly consequential -- difference concerns the nature of the evidence on which historians and sociologists typically rely or, more precisely, the way in which this evidence comes into being. This argument is developed and illustrated with reference to various examples of sociologists resorting to historical research and the difficulties they have encountered; and further in the context of a critique of 'grand historical sociology' whose practitioners have so far failed to provide their work with any adequate methodological basis.

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