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The Tyranny of Here and Now

Historical Sociology

The article contends that sociological findings are oriented to a single time and place: Here and Now. To escape the tyranny of this boundary condition, sociologists focus on structures and processes that minimize constraints of time and place. Therefore, sociologists insist on explicit conceptualization, hypothesis testing, and elaboratative formalizations in their arguments and worry more about modeling, measurement and estimation than social historians. In reviewing William H. Sewell Jr.'s "Structure and Mobility: The Men and Women of Marseille, 1820-1870" (1985), Tilly critiques Sewell's attempt to mesh the two fields of study, categorized under the subfield of Historical Sociology. Tilly remarks that Historical Sociology should not be a straightforward absorption of historical analyses into sociological models; it is not worth the effort.