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The Trouble with Stories

Social Scientific Knowledge

The article suggests that sociology's strongest insights do not take the form of standard stories - sequential, explanatory accounts of self-motivated human action - which are common in historical analysis. This is due to the limits of storytelling including: (1) its limited number of interacting characters, (2) its constraints on analysis within a specific time and space, (3) its requirement of independent and conscious actions, and (4) its requirement that all actions, with the exception of externally generated accidents, result from previous actions by the characters.