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Three Visions of History and Theory

Historical Sociology

The article contrasts three current perspectives of how sociology and history interact.. In the “practical sense” perspective, exemplified by Burke’s History and Social Theory (2005), history is envisioned as the repository of human richness and theory as a set of tools that can be used to arrange this richness. In the “cultural phenomenological” perspective, exemplified by Adams et al.’s Remaking Modernity: Politics, History, and Sociology (2005), cultural consciousness of the individual is the core component of social life, thus proponents of this perspective argue that sociological analysis should be primarily interpretive. The systematic constructivism perspective, exemplified by Tilly’s recent edited volume (with R. Goodin) The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (2006), accepts the world as socially constructed but argues that much can still be learned through systematic observation.