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Bryant Reviewed work(s): Source: The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 3-19 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The London School of Economics and Political Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591521 . Accessed: 14/01/2012 09:53
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Bryant Evidenceand explanationin historyand sociology:criticalreflectionson Goldthorpe's critiqueof historicalsociology* In 'The uses of historyin sociology'.).an understandableemphasis given their marginal status. accordingly. brief comIn pass.rooted in of the 'reaction againstpositivism' a 'failureof nerve'over the ideaof and 'socialscience'. l March l 994 . for Whatfollowsis a preliminary partialresponseto certainaspectsof and Goldthorpe's assessment.This critiquecomes at a most opportune time. ON EVIDENCE.occasiona more advanced exchange on matters of theory and method. for advocatesof historical sociologyhave hithertoconcentrated more on exposing the inadequaciesof mainstreampractices and assumptions.and (b) reaffirm the necessaryinterdependenceof historical sociological and analysis.These efforts .That proposed division of labour suggestsone obviousfunctionfor historyin sociological analysis BJS Volumeno. Goldthorpe's direct and l informed challenge should.HISTORICALAND SOCIOLOGICAL While acknowledgingthat a continuingdialogue between historians and sociologistsis essential for both disciplines. 45 *ssucno. objectives my beingto (a)redrawthe linesof contention in accordancewith actual problemsof investigation.Joseph M.from here on all page referencesto this paperwillappearin squarebrackets. one which holds the promiseof greateranalytical sophistication all partiesconcerned.John Goldthorpe(1991) raises severalseriousobjectionsto the currentrevivalof historical modes of analysisin our discipline. Goldthorpe reassertsthat historiansmust contextualize.and hence have not offered a systematicor comprehensive justification of their own procedures. I.havegone too far in his view.with datesand places.Goldthorpeis disturbed by recent interdisciplinary trends and by more extreme calls for an amalgamation explanatorylogics.as opposed to traditionaldisciplinarypreserves.whereassociologists shouldstriveto widenthe scope of their explanatoryarguments.illegitimately overriding aspects of the traditionalidiographic-nomothetic distinctionwhich should be maintained(Goldthorpe1991:212 .
thatis.historicalknowledgewill invariably and lacunary.with the consequencethat 'historical sustainableas a are inordinatelyinferential.4 JosephM.but also in practice.resultingnot only in mistaken views on the relationshipbetween historyand sociology.of theirown analyses[p. empirzcal featuringdifferencesboth in founded upon distinctive the nature of the evidence utilized and in the manner in which evidencecomes into being.restrictedto the inferencesthatcan be drawnfrom the remainsof the past. The basiccontrastis presentedas follows: whereas modern sociologicalresearch typically'generates'or 'produces' its own data or evidence. Historymayserveas.essentiallymaterial artifactsof variouskindsand a wide rangeof literarydocuments-are both finite and incomplete. other yieldingconcretedetail and bounded specificities. in other words. objectivewouldthus seem to entaila returnto the status Goldthorpe's ante. Given these limiting circumprove to be both partial stances. to and explainsociologically. as providingboth the settingarml limits. thereby curb their impulse to generalise or.213]. by proponentsof historicalsociology.Is this characterization . for any given period or setting. in materials sociological of misapplications historical turnon critiquewillobviously of Assessingthe validity Goldthorpe's the adequacy of his distinction between 'sociological data' and fact 'a relics'. so to speak. however. fragmentary A reminder that historiographyis a demanding enterprise is salutaryin itself. rationalefor upholding the traditionalacademicdivide. point where sociologistsand historianswould restrainand a quo the correcteach other'snaturalexcessesor limitations. The immense disadvantagesand problems posed by the Goldthorpecontends. Muchmore view is the fact that the two disciplinesare importantin Goldthorpe's bases. Given their respective research foci.are neither the sole nor the major Different explicanda.havebeen largelyignored lattercircumstance. one imparting the the gift of theory. Goldthorpeendorses the view that the two disciplineswill employ distinctiveexplanatorylogics. Bryant for category' sociology.even if'generalizing'and 'particularizing'are mattersmoreof emphasisthan strictprinciple. primarilythrough interviewsand from or evidenceconsistsof chancesurvivals 'relics' surveys. Nor can one challenge the observationthat historicalrelics .a 'residual marking the point at which sociologists. the survivingrelics are likely to constituteonly a small and unrepresentativeselection.Equallysound is the suggestionthat. that the evidentialbase upon which historicalresearchdepends is facts' distinctivelyproblematic.His startingpointis uncontroversial: historical 'historical is an inference from the relics'[p. acceptthe role of the specificand of the the contingentas framing.of generalization. but Goldthorpe'sdiscussionimplies rather more.historical the past. in invoking 'history'. 212].
Scienceis of coursean inferentialenterpriseat itsverycore. in thatthe phenomenalrealm providesan experientialor empiricalbase from whichwe 'deduce'or 'infer'certainproperties. there are some forms of knowledgein the social-historical scienceswhich are more secure than select areas within the natural sciences. the existing technology of observationand measurement.patterns.The qualityof scientificinferenceswill thus varywith the qualityof the availableevidence. these limitationsvary in accordancewith the problems investigated:a biologist studying cell division in garden vegetables confronts an empiricalsituationmarkedlydifferent from that of a biologist investigatingthe transmissionof the AIDS virus or the molecular mutations that promote cancer malignancy.a physicist concerned with the propertiesof subatomicelements confronts an empirical situtation different from that of a physicist studying chemicalkineticsor interstellar magnetism.The exhaustive of representation recountingof 'reality' not the objective practice or is or of any empirical science. limitations sourcematerials.seem to be characteristic most forms of scientificinquiry. Indeed.Evidence explanation history sociology and in and 5 category distinction.and the analytical cogencyof the concepts and theories employed. afterall. the same principleshould hold with regardto the issue of inference. and all confront.and relations.2Moreto the point.or ties for thatmatter.a sociologist concerned with fertility patterns among developing nations confronts an empirical situation different from that of a sociologistinvestigating betweencorporateand politicalelites.The convenbe tionalviewthatthe sciencesstandin a definitehierarchy wherebyall that is carried out within the domains of physics or chemistry is deemed more accurateand establishedthan anythingthat has been produced in sociology or history .that view is quite misleading.the logic of inferential procedure remains basically . in varying degrees. in eitheras actualdeficienciesin 'data'or as cognitiveor technicallimitsin accessing'allthat there is'.this quest for intelligibilitytypicallyinvolves an ongoing dialectic between observation and conceptualization.or should we rather decide such matterson the basisof substantive concernsand particularquestionspursued?Finitudeand incompleteness. marking off disciplines. 'strong' and 'weak'areas of research will accordingly found both acrossand withindisciplines. In actual practice. historianwho investithe gates the causesof WorldWarI confrontsa researchchallengequite distinct from that of a historian whose object is to identify the diplomatic maneuvers that resulted in the Treaty of Versailles.and factsare all mutually implicated.3Nor should it be overlooked that whatever the field of investigation.concepts.inductionand deduction:theories.quitedifferentfrom a demographerstudyingfertility in developednations! If the finitudeand incompleteness datasets are to be assessedon of the basisof substantive problemsratherthandisciplinary boundaries.
Determiningwhether a particularinscription. moreover. designand samplingcontrolsare usuallyabsent but given the haphazardand uneven circumstances which 'relics'are by preserved.physical for as well as social. as survivals 'relics'from the past. there is no denyingthe difficultiesinvolved. and It is.a prisonerof the vestigestime has preserved. to saythe or least. The distinctionbetween researchthat investigates'the past' and researchconcernedwith 'the present'is a familiarone. 21X15]. withineveryempiricalscience. moreover. and Our remaining concern over the nature of historicalevidence would seem to be the issue of 'representativeness'.can chartan independent courseof research. the sociologist is in a position to 'generate'or'invent' evidence. And while Goldthorpeoffers passingacknowledgment 'generatedevidence' that posesits own specialproblemsas regardscompleteness.. For Goldthorpe. this is indeed and the main focus of Goldthorpe'scritique.where.6 JosephM.e. Bryant uniform. Owing to the distinctive manner in which historical evidence 'comes into being'.framingquestionsand then activelyintervening to create materials'thatdid not existbefore' [p.e. and obviously subsumesmore than the disciplinesof historiography sociology.by wayof contrast. a distinctionill-suited to serve as a criterion for disciplinary demarcation.the historianis constrained to followin pre-determined paths.The sociologist. i.214]..one willfind a vastarrayof questionsand problemstheoretical wellas substantive-thatare intrinsically as 'historical'. or paintingconveysrepresentative aberrantinformationis. by generatingyet furtherevidencethroughwhichto checkand testthe original[pp. . and where questionsof the quality of evidence can always be addressed.this is the difference that divides:for unlike the historian. the historiantypically or encountersa two-foldlimitation:not only is the supplyof extant materialspartial and fragmentary.he is confidentof the analytical advantages obtain that where the natureand extent of available evidenceis not restricted by the mere accidentsof physicalsurvival. anything but straightforward. i. as they arise.Dependent upon whatthe pasthas bequeathed.the collectionof evidence can be 'designed'so as to meet the specific requirementsof the inquiryin hand.poem.And even if we allow that historianshave worked out methods and inferentialrules for such problems(usually subsumedunderthe broadrubricof Quellenkrztik or 'source-criticism').withattendingcontrolsoversamplingand selection. The sociologistwho correlatescrime statisticsand sundry socio-economicindicatorsin order to postulatesome form of causal connectionis engaged in basically same analytical the processas the archaeologistwho infers widening stratification the basis of the on changing composition of burial remains and signs of increased agricultural productivity monumentalarchitecture. reliability and validity.
with all methodological creditsaccruingon the sociologicalside of the ledger.6 on To begin with the most fundamentalpoint.e. with these in turn being assessed on the basis of specific research concerns? Proceeding categoricallyrather than substantively. naturalor authentic elements pastsocialworlds.A reassessment that score is therefore urgentlyrequired. they objectifyand preserve significant . Admittedly.After all. of That is to say.Evidence explanation history sociology and in and 7 concerned with processes and events that are both sequentiallyordered and time-dependent.they projecttheir heartfelt hopes and anxietiesonto the funerarymotifs which grace the graves of the departed.. bypassingsubstantive contentaltogether. what is 'real'. what historianwould not jump at the chance to return to the past armed with questionnairesfor mass-mailing and audio-videorecordersof unlimitedtape?The obviousanswerto that hypotheticalis not conclusive. ideals. for the analogoussituation also holds: what sociologistwould not be keen to view the present from the vantageof the future. with retrospectiveknowledgeof the trends that emerged triumphantand those that fell by the wayside (often contraryto the subjectiveexpectationsof the participants!). poems. principally on the ground that survey techniquesgenerate 'data'that are more representativeand complete than the 'relics'which constitute the limitedempiricalfund of historiography.but there is also a 'constitutive' dimension. and that. Goldthorpe'saccountingseems plausible. and inspirationsin and from the songs.almost axiomatic.there can be few who would questionthat investigating the present provides distinct advantages in matters of research design and sampling. it is undoubtedlytrue that accessing the past and accessing the present pose distinctivechallenges.5 At first glance. are we to presume an inherentsuperiorityof one to the other. Goldthorpe'scontrastbetween evidence 'discovered' (historical) and evidence 'invented'(sociological)attends only to the issue of sampling representativeness.but for whatit leavesout of account.i. and with the opportunityto peruse officialand privaterecordsthat were sealedfrom contemporaries? Goldthorpe's invidiousdistinction between 'sociologicaldata' and 'historicalrelics'is likewisemisleading. human beings orient their lives amidst the architecturalforms that frame and define their private and public spaces. for the most part.The question is.however.4 That said. But 'representativeness' a dual meaning: has 'typification' a samplingor probabalistic in sense is certainlyencompassed.Goldthorpe'sanswer takes the form of a decidedlyuneven 'balancesheet'. accordingly. we need to appreciate that historical 'relics' are. the notion of corresponding to or embodying what is essential. not so much for whatit says.certain peculiarities procedurewill of mark the two orientations. they fashion their motives. or is it not the case thateach will feature advantagesand disadvantages. and prose that constitute their primarymeans of communicative discourse.
i.must surelyrankhigh in the desiderata any scientific of enterprise. one might say.8 JosephM. 'theirworldsas experienced'. much the same can of course be said: from potsherds and pollen deposits to trash heaps and bureaucratic inventories all such'relics' representeitherthe meaningfulcreations or by-productsof social activity.g. the promptedresponseact is not partof the normalflow of social life). they administertheir publicaffairson the basisof createdpoliticalinstitutions codifiedlegaldecrees..for these formats are severely limited in their capacityto lay hold of certain features of social totality.Regarding otherbasicformsof the historical evidence. Goldthorpe'scharacterization survey or interof view-generated evidenceas 'invented'is unintentionally apposite..thusconditioning or 'contaminating' response (the so-called 'reactivemeasurement' the problem).7 Against the 'naturalness' 'socialauthenticity'of historicalevior dence. the coded and statistically processedself-declared attitudesand actionsof individualsyield a rather inadequateprism through which to view . As regards survey methods.for it is clear that research of that sort typically entails significant modifications deformationsof the subjectinvestigated.Not only is or that kind of'invented' information fashioned and extracted in a somewhat stilted and artificialmode (e..their relationand ships with other communities and with nature are mediated by inventedinstruments warand economy.whether as questionnaireor as interviewer is recognizedas suchby the subject. and in an unnatural setting(i.or the bio-physicalrealitieswhich circumscribedhuman experience.The frequentlyheardlamentthat 'real'human beings and 'real'socialprocessesare obscuredor lost in the trappings of modern research techniques and methods (or perhaps never found!) attests to the very real problem tryingto of apprehend elusiveand highlyreactive the realities sociallife through of procedures areboth that unnatural obtrusive.wherebyinterventionist efforts to measure reality invariablyoccasion significantdisplacementsor distortionsin that reality.and that kind of authenticity. the panoplyof armour of and weaponrywieldedby the warriorand the inventoryof tools and machinesemployedby the worker.it needs to be stressedthat surveysand fieldworkcannotbe considered fully representativeeven in the sense Goldthorpeemphasizes.8 and Evenapartfrom the problemsof artificiality 'invented' with data. As residual 'traces'or 'objectifications' pasthumanactionsand existential of conditions. Bryant collectiveexperiencesin the socialritualswhichregulatethe rhythms of communitylife.the 'hardness'of such data.What must be confronted here are obviousparallelswith the UncertaintyPrinciplein particlephysics.e. responses mechanically scaled and transcribedin quantitativeform).e. it is necessaryto consider the 'artificiality' much standard of sociologicaldata. but the intrusion .the empirical materialsof historiography bring us into ratherimmediateor direct contactwithour subjects.
The commonplace charge that much of the information supplied by survey researchis 'thin'or trivial(especiallyin regard to behavioral and aspects)reflectsthe fact that.for example. given the problemsof artificiality describedabove.i. own beings their social in of experienceshuman existential Here again a comparisonwith 'invented'sociologicaldata would seem to run counter to Goldthorpe'sone-sided assessment.but also provide a window onto sundry routines of everyday life. there exists a very real possibilitythat 'invented'sociologicaldata captures little . 'saturated' the social. by subjectingsuch are historians often ableto colligation.but in additioncarrya descriptionof dietaryhabits. a particularpaintingwill disclose somethingof the aesthetictastesof artistsand patrons.there are groundsfor doubtingboth unnaturalness the validity and the significanceof the abstractedresponses. all the more so when methodologicalpressuresfor the out' and standardization mass-processing'flatten or 'pre-package' qualityand range of response.but of alsoexpresssomethingof the religiousand culturalsensibilities the a bronze cuirass and helmet will enable us to recreate period.. of or i.. will articulatecertain valuesand ideals. the of and materials methodsused in the construction wallsand buildings willrevealmuch regardingthe economicand technicalcircumstances under which the inhabitantslived.the 'relic'or historical embodiesor is stampedbyvariousaspectsof thatcontext..and in and Evidence explanation history sociology 9 scale. to disparatematerials analytical drawout from a singlesourcea wide rangeof insightsand cluesabout because evidence that implicatedsocialprocessesand relations. element theactions. developments and transformationson the macro-structural restricted observersare for the most part physically while participant milieux. the research-inducedpsychological reactionsof individualsto a batteryof formalquestionsmustbe seen as quite limited.as an objectification 'loaded'or 'multivalent' objecttypically of humanactionor experience.e.and fashionsof dress.A particular poem or text of legal discourse.ll In contrastto historicalrelicswhich in are typicallymultivalent. is 'natural'.but hardlyadequateas the empiricalbasisfor socialsciencein general.but in addition testify to levels of craftsmanshipand wider linkagesof commerceand trade. residentialpatterns. the fact that. In short.10 evidencerelevantto the issueof of Anothercharacteristic historical substantiverepresentativenessis what might be called its socially quality.e. an integral component worlds.useful to be sure for variousspecificresearchquestions.funeraryinscriptionsand grave depositswill bear testimonyto the statusclaimsof the interred.precisely and routines.i. conditions on the field of battle (including the physiology of the combatants).9The to workingin 'micro'settingsor other circumscribed informationor data gatheredby such meanswill accordinglyconstiof tute only a limitedand partialrepresentation sociallife .e. As a template of the social world. but also yield information on geo-politicalconcernsand realities.
cannot simplydraw up an inventoryof current attributes. as a cumulativelyand selectivelyreproduced ensemble of practicesand ideas that 'channel' and impart directionalityto ongoing human agency.is likewiseinadequateto captureanother fundamentalaspectof the ontology of social phenomena: the fact that present arrangements institutions.the preceding experienceswill bear significantlyon the present and future.given that temporality.cultural forms. but also encompassesperceptionsof past serviceand reliability.its contextual embeddedness in the preceding history of state-civilian relations. The variable rhythmsof experientialtimethusenter into all facetsof social life as a determinantfeature.for example.and power relations. but continuously constitutive of the 'present'.not as a homogeneous metricbut as a culturally defined apperception.l4 The time-as-measurement view.its very meaningand significance will be defined by its occurrenceon the sociologicaltime-curve. For a political party that repeatedly loses general elections.The attitudeof consumerstowardthe productsof certain companiesis not simplya functionof currentcost-benefit calculations.i. The courseof revolutionary upheavalor transformation conditionednot is only by the present constellationof social forces. with historyproviding'boundary conditions'for sociologicalgeneralization. each new campaign and subsequentloss is not a homogeneousdatum. For an individualcontractinga second or third marital(or adulterous)relationship. their sense of the 'historical moment' and their appreciationof the collective'destiny'of the nation. A sociologythat ignores the path-dependentnature or sequentialordering of social phenomena .in otherwords.l5An investigation into the 'causes'of gender inequalitiesin the workplace. with the consequence that socialscience invariably confrontssituationsof 'layered' or 'ramifiedcausality'.has made it.is whatthe past. interests. roles. The act of protesting againstan authoritarian regime.are theproducts pasthuman of actions. chains of dependence that repeatedly recede into preceding constellationsof social factors.Evidence explanation histo andsociology and in ll immersed.e.l3 Geneticor historical modes of explanation are accordingly indispensable to sociologicalanalysis.providesone of the essentialframesof meaningfor socialaction. History.but a realitythatis overladenor 'surcharged' what by transpiredbefore.it will also be necessaryto show how presentcircumstances the resultant'moments'of a long chain of are linked and contingentantecedents.The present.as a phenomenon. and the field within which they become intelligible' (1953:27-28).is 'the cumulativeeffect of pastevents on events of the present' (Tilly 1981:12). in this or particular case. extending from the personalor micro level on up to that of institutionsand macrostructures. but by the past experiencesof the participants.as receivedand creativelyinterpretedby the present.begins no laterthan the dawnof complexcivilization.. The 'past'is thus never really 'past'.a 'trajectory' 'path'that.
a position which Goldthorpecontends reduces them to offering 'interpretationsof interpretations'. for it fails to appreciatethat 'present forms have their particularnature byvirtueof their past' (Manicas 1987:274)..and therewitha transcending of the old idiographic-nomothetic antinomy.in that it comprehends human agency in all its various forms as temporallyordered and conditioned.Insteadof artificially separating the particular from the general. Historicalsociology.and historical.in that it attends to roles.and structures.these qualitiesmust be explicated in terms of their ontologicalinterconnection. Goldthorpemaintainsthatthis sociological reprocessing of .e.by fusing idiographicand nomotheticmodalitiesthrough a contextual in logzc which phenomena explicated understood tracing their are and by both genesis andtheir intrtnsic relations other to mediating structures processes. no sociologyat all.they are obligatedto demonstrate that human actions are neither inherently social nor inherently historical.220-22]. Those who would challenge either the logic or the necessity of historical-sociological explanation accordingly face a formidable task. cadit quaestio.their relational immanence.i.experientialtime as one of the dimensionalframesfor intentionality. the conjuncturalfrom the structured.for ratherthaninvokedatedmethodological maxims . typically is constructed the basisof extremely'tenuous on and arbitrary'links between evidence and inference [pp. Bryant is. A NOTE ON 'GRAND'HISTORICALSOCIOLOGYAND THE USE AND ABUSE OF SECONDARYSOURCES The closingsectionof Goldthorpe's critiqueis in my opinionthe most cogently reasoned and significant.12 JosephM. and clearlyviolates the essential unities and interrelationsof social life.proceedsin conformitywith its object.the unique from the recurrent. Given their expansive analyticalrange. institutions.More strikingly and ironically. grand historicalsociologists are heavilydependentupon derivative secondary or accountsfor their basic data. in truth.in contrast. His basic point is that 'grand historicalsociology'. III. the ontological and rootednessof presentarrangements pastpractices wouldseem to in necessitate'historical socialscience'. and This contextual logic is at once sociological.canons that were in part formulated as self-legitimizingand domain-preserving mechanisms. To assign one discipline the task of understanding humanityby way of spatio-temporal specifications.l6 The dual temporalityof social phenomena. that genre of researchfeaturing'the tracing out of long-termdevelopmentalprocessesor patternsor the making of comparisonsacross a wide range of historicalsocieties or even civilizations'. while enjoining another to do so via generalizations abstractions.
Now whileit is true thatthe intricatenarrative integrateand collatethe 'facts'of reportage worksof historiography within interpretativestylings.etc.e.wherein primarydata and original questionnairesare reanalyzed. not been adequately inquiry. the socialcompositionof believers.it is usuallypossiblefor the informed wheneverother reader to distinguishbetweenthe two. what can be structureof the third-century inferred regarding the ecclesiastical church.readers.grand historicalsociologistsdo not make contact with primarysource materials.where.'8 the Interpretation involvesestablishing meaningand the significance of these historical'facts'.42 acolytes. and thatsociologists as are not nearlyso far 'removedfrom the empirical' is suggested.l7That said. how many. or indeed concatenations of facts or entire 'accounts'. and more than 1500 widows and poor people.particularly purposes. 7 sub-deacons.who.and doorkeepers.i. As to the famous letter just mentioned.and it is to ply. for example. As an exampleone mightcite an episcopalletter from the mid-thirdcenturywhich relatesthat the church in Rome was then maintaining46 prebyters. Goldthorpegoes on to point out thatin contrastto secondaryanalysis of survey-basedresearch.exorciststo the number of 52. and it fosors-and-paste' cuses much-neededattentionon a methodologicalproblemthat has quitesimaddressed. Reportageconsistsof informationthat pertainsto basicquestionsof what.An annotatedbibliography. a few observations be offered here in an loose' as Goldeffort to show that the situationis not as 'impossibly sources who employsecondary thorpemakesout.that they find in discreteand stableentities were secondarysourcesasif they relatively that can be 'excerpted'and then brought together in order that some largerdesign maybe realized[p. 221]. and interpretation the other.but simply offer reinterpreoffered by historians.the probablepercentage the of Christians vis-a-vis totalpopulationof the RomanEmpire.and weavingsof most so on. is not enough to sustainhistorical-comparative pointedchallengewillelicitfullerdisclosbe hoped thatGoldthorpe's proceduresfrom practicinghistoricalsociologistsin ure of analytical will the future.. historianshave long been waging various 'interpretive'wars over.in Evidence expkznationhisto andsociology and 13 is historical'rawmaterials' virtuallyidenticalwith HerbertSpencer's positivistic conception.Historical secondarysourcesare consultedfor comparative .7 deacons. the materialsthat constitutereportage.when. What Goldthorpe'saccount overlooksis that all works of historistrands:what might be ographyare woven from two distinguishable on on called reportage the one hand.whereinhistoryis to provide'stonesand bricks' designsof sociology for the vaultingarchitectural Grand historicalsociologists have to treat the facts. tationsof the interpretations The charge that grand historicalsociologistsare engaged in 'scishistoriographyis obviouslya serious one.
Indeed. of his criticisms severalprominenthistorical and sundrytheoretical ideologicalbiaseshavedistortedtheiranalyses. Bryant in sociologists. however.most seriously.2l Grand historicalsociologymay not have established'fixed rules' to Goldthorpe'sliking governing the utilizationof secondarysources but general scientificstandardsor criteriado currentlyfunction to determine the respective strengths and inadequaciesof published and research. by meansof theoryand comparative evidence. and avoidanceof reactive-measurement design-variability IV. sociologists exchangesamongsthistorical of empirical and theoretical adequacy are continuously raised. CONCLUSION This paper has sought to establishthree fundamentalpoints:(1) that by historicalevidence is characterized certain intrinsicstrengthsor . given the stability of the 'facts' of reportage and the problems.the obviousansweris. a casecould be made thatinternalcriticism the in feasible historical knowledgecumulationare bothmore of possibility sociology.When Goldthorpedoubtinglyinquiresof the criteriaby which sociologists can possiblyreinterpretor adjudicatebetweenconflictingsecondary accounts.thus encounterprimarymaterials and the reportageof historians. thoughthisformof mediatedaccessis limited . offeringshaveunderminedthe evidenceupon or thatlaterrevisionist of which they indirectlyrelied.a viewwe corrected in light of the distinction between historiographicreportage and interpretation. The disparatefacts of reportagedo not 'speakfor themmeaningful. all this will prove relevantin the evaluationof anyscientificexplanation. And for a definitivedisconfirmation charge. the scope and internal consistencyof the of analysis.20 sociology chargethatthe offeringsof grandhistorical Goldthorpe's is are inherentlyarbitrary basedupon his perceptionthatsuch works are tenuouslyconnectedwith primaryevidence.There is.the compatibility an interpretationwith that established for comparablecases. one is dependent upon someone else's sociologyis selectionof the 'facts' it is incorrectto claimthathistorical a second-orderconstructionwithoutempiricalgrounding.How well these 'facts'are accounted for.but are renderedintelligible. some kind of interpretiveor analyticatframework.another point to consider.grandor otherwise.14 JosephM. a cautious and is of relianceupon the reportageand interpretations specialists critical obviouslyessentialfor advancesin suchareas.l9Sociologists should of course examine primarysources directlywhenever questionsrequire sociological but possible. one need only examine the many critical the arbitrariness wherequestions themselves.Goldthorpehimselfinvokessuchcriteriain allegingthat sociologists. giventhatmanysignificant extensive knowledge of different times and places.onlywhenset within selves'.
Historicalsocialscienceis a 'grounded'science. most notably SociologfMeetsHistory( 1981). (Dateaccepted:July 1992) JosephM.Rod Nelson..be rejected. .as a callto haltor reversethe trend towards interdisciplinary synthesisand the consolidationof historicalsocial science. .). The caseforhistorical sociologyis stillin the making. has not been made. some unique to historicalresearch. of University New Brunswick of NOTES * I wouldliketo thankIrvingZeitlin.while entailing certain limitations.All methodological considerations shouldbe similarly grounded. Jennifer Platt's 'Evidence and Proof in Documentary Research' (1981).i. Goldthorpe's variousstricturesmischaracterize natureof historithe cal evidenceand misconstrue logic of sociological the explanation. RandallCollins. 1. that the temporal and (2) nature of social phenomena mandates a fusing of historicaland sociologicalmodes of analysis.As a call to greatermethodological self-awareness.Steven Turner. Allan Macdonnell. addition. neither traditional disciplinary boundariesnor peremptorymethodologicalformatsshould delimit t ze rangeot sclentlhclnqulry.Fellowship support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Councilof Canada is alsogratefully acknowledged. .in that it proceedsby comprehendingthe distinctiveand essentialpropertiesof its object: human agency as mediatedby the constitutivecontextualframesof historical time and culturalmilieu.but most shared by other standard sociological methods. and Jack Goldstone theirhelpfulcomments for on earlierversionsof this paper.most notably the qualities of social authenticityor 'naturalness' informational'multivalence'. V"ion andMethod Historical in Sociology (1984). But see the annotated bibliographyin Theda Skocpol. The case against historicalsociology. Marc Milner. . Jim Richardson. Goldthorpe's paper would have gained 'balance'by engagement with this discussion. the adoptionof a contextuallogic of explanation.and fromconsideration some of .and (3) that the employmentof secondaryhistorical sources . Noel Iverson. cautionary to be his is welcomedand endorsed.(ed.Bryant Department Sociology. # .e. and of course the methodologically explicit offerings of Charles Tilly.does allow for nonarbitrary linkagesbetweenevidenceand interpretation. As 2. provides an excellent overview of the challenges involved.Evidence expkznationhisto andsociology and in 15 advantages. I submit.it In has been suggestedthat researchproceduresmust be adaptedto the types of problems investigated.But it canclaim one manifest advantage: its analyticalprocedures have not been modelled after the idealizations and elisionscharacteristic formal of treatiseson theory and method.I offer. nor have they been imported from disciplinesthat investigatefundamentallyalien ontological orders.it must.
for example. the scienceof history. extensive 'dark ages'anddimlyillumined aspects social of life precludeany comprehensive reconstruction. in are interpretationsof objectifications.and extendsfrom physics to biology and beyond. theimportantessay Fritz see by Machlup.hysteresis effects.the two sides are not to be dividedoff. Whilemodernsociology undoubtedlyenjoysadvantages research in design andsampling theory. but even most specialists it difficultto mastermore find thanselectedareasin theirfields. Goldthorpe appearsto havebeenunduly influenced here by the partisandero- JosephM. for it bears directlyon many of the most basicand important of sociological questions. The conventionalimage that historians confront a chronic dearth of materials let it be noted.of his or her actionsand orientations.History be contemcan plated from two sides.i. to moreaboutthe dialecticof social structureand human agencythan aboutthe paradoxof waveparticleduality. women. The followingdatum is particularly worth noting.16 of the commonphenomenological dilemmasraisedin PaulRock's 'Someproblems of interpretive historiography' ( 1976). religious or ethnicminorities.For a generalanalytical discussion. sociological interpretations survey of data are one-step removed. The broad push to rewrite'history frombelow'by attending to the marginalized expressions disand courseof variousdisprivileged groupsthe lower classes.Not 'too little data'. To be sure. Bryant gation of mainstream historiography offeredbyquantitative 'cliometricians'.systemturbulence.. then 'selective access' wouldseem to be a rathermoreconsequential problemthan 'selectivedeposit'.in lightof currenttrendsprescientremarkin The GermanIdeology: 'We know only a single science.thereby creating 'mediated' information-the point I am trying to make is that 'relics'are aspects of the natural environment of past social worlds. thosewhoseresources enabledthem to dominatethe mediaof cultural expression(andso the 'historical record').on the here ground that the analystmust interpret the meaningand significance the hisof torical object.withthe consequencethatrandomsamples 'ordinary' of respondents loom disproportionately large in most sociologicalprojects. the historyof natureand the historyof men are mutually conditioned'. it can be divided into the historyof natureand the history of mankind. 4. One is reminded here of Marx's famousand . conquered the the and colonized isof courseintendedto complement and correct the perspectival/ ideologicalbiasesof more conventional sources. typicallyfar is.surveyresearchers usually are hamperedby the oppositeproblem.that of gaining access to the commanding heightsof their societies. Historical interpretations.However. being interpretationsof the respondent's subjective interpretations commonly'forced'into pre-selectedcategories. Whereas historians are typically constrainedto workwith artifacts and literarydocuments derivefromthe comthat mandsand reflectionsof the privileged and powerful. as longas menexist. Forthose who wouldquestionmy use of the term'immediate' . 6. from the actualities problem-centred of research. The trend I am referringto of course is the recent surge of interest in non-linear dynamics. I thinkit safe to say. but the sheer volume and varietyof materialsbequeathedby the past is not only unassimilableby the historical profession.e.'Are the SocialScienceReally Inferior?' (1963). . but 'too few fellow-workers and too little time' is a more realistic characterization the historian's of plight. and contingenciesthat is subsumed under the general heading of 'chaostheory'. This broad intellectualcurrentcan perhapsbest be characterized 'bringingHistoryback as in'to the natural sciences. If power is at all relevantto socialreality. 5. 3.more aboutthe causesand processes socialrevolutionthan about of the formation galaxies the transition of or frominorganic organic. 7. that we know more about the originsof civilization wedo abouttheoriginsof than the universe.practice usually in is less impressive.unlikethe artificially-induced responses of survey research (which of coursealso requireinterpretation!). other words.
That survey-basedresearch has not to date yielded the 'science' its proponents prophesied. most famously. Cicourel's Method and Measurement providesa detailedaccount of these intrusive'contamination' effects and the attending problemsof artificiality. thatthe 'classic techniques empiriof cal sociology are condemned by their very nature to create situationsof fictitious experimentationessentiallydifferent from the socialexperimentations that are constantlyproducedin the unfolding of social life' ( 1991:43). 13.. C. wouldbe difficultto chalIt lenge his summary observation:'The correspondence between the hypothetical world inferred from questionnaire items and actual behaviorof the actor remainsan open empiricalproblem' (1964:113). and Peter Manicas (1987).e. Or with Bourdieu.e.i. examinethe disastrous I falloutof thisenduringlegacyin 'Positivism Redivivt4s?' (1992a). 11. need continual restating. the flux of the short-term. These points. For a discussionof the exigenciesof field research.The Craft of Sociology: (1991). 12. and the responses obtainedare producedin partby dimensionsof individual differencesirrelevant to the topic at hand' (1966:1).i.likewiseemphasizes the 'epiphenomenal subjectivism' the surveyand its inattention of to determinant structural relations. though obvious.a large assumption indeed! As Cicourelnotes.TheodorAdorno's 'Sociology and Empirical Research' (1976). As documented the classic in study by Eugene Webb. et al. and certainlyconfirmsthe suspicion that far too much sociology is drivenby methodological expediency. scientific sociology: A .Methodand Measurement in Sociology (1964).and Jean-ClaudePasserson.Evidence explanation history sociology and in and 8. a diary.and reply to attending commentsby Steve Fuller and JonathanTurner in 'Towards respecta able. largely as a consequence of the misguided effort to imitatenomotheticsciences like physicsand so gain distance from allegedlyidiographic inferiorslike historiography. To assume that the 'documentary'value of the survey is superiorto the latterentailsquite a leap of faith.they elicit atypicalroles and responses. 17 Epistemological Preliminartes 9. the fact that because actors are bound up in the immediate. See. 10. Jean-ClaudeChamboredon. in 'livingworlds'are to some extent 'blind worlds'. Bryant (1985). chapter 3 in The SociologicalImagination (1959).. . Mills(1959:70). or a theological tract.To this one should add FernandBraudel'srepeatedinsistenceon the limitedpurview of contemporaries. reflexive. Someone checking off responseboxes on a questionnaire hardly 'enis gaged' in the way an individualis.consult HowardS. unaware of deeper historical currents and enveloping structuralrealities. see Christopher G. Wright Mills'critiqueof 'abstracted empiricism' and the attendantdangersof 'psychologism'...they createas well as measureattitudes. A. extrapolatingfrom 'survey-invented' materialsto the real world of situationalcontingenciesand emergentprocessesis perhapsmore 'inferential'than extrapolatingfrom 'discovered relics'that do not entail corresponding researcher-respondent . 'the tendencyto reducesociologicalrealities psychological to variables.they are limited to those who are accessible and will cooperate.See especiallythe essayscollected in On Htstoo (1980). Andthatqualification holdsevenif one assumes that problemsconcerning the stability univocity meaningin and of bothquestions repliescanbe reasonand ably managed . because sociologyas a disciplinehas long cultivated a systematicdisregardfor temporality. when composinga poem. All things considered.See also PierreBourdieu. the problems of interaction effects alone are such that the survey instrument might best be limited to 'providingsimple descriptive material a non-threatening froma of type large sample of individualsfor some practical purpose' (1964:115). et al. say. Becker(1970). Unobtrusive Measures:'Interviews and questionnaires intrude as a foreign element into the social setting they would describe. A thorough review of these and related problemsinvolvedcan also be found in AaronCicourel. nteractlon.
in afterall. component within every branchof scithereby continuing 'condition' subsequent ence. Theoty 6 (Fall):169. fied' cases. The content-ratio reportageto of interpretation varies considerably. al. with the aim of developing GeneralLinear Reality'. Bryant 'strategicconcealments' characteristic is of all 'publicscience'. The law of entropy. formalnarrative methods.in A. Sociological generalizable. Skocpol"s Visionand Method(1984) or 'reverberative' thatthe founderof fact isa convenient place to start.As they note: 'Temporality an is intrinsicpropertyof consciousness. bibliographicreferences are fully fusingspiritual temporal and power extensive and include citations of the from outset. 16. Andrew 1990 'Conceptionsof demonstration that time-series and Time and Events in Social Science event-history methodsdo not adequately Methods'. 1992) which expose the limitations the 'variable of paradigm' in BIBLIOGRAPHY mainstream quantitative research addresses these issues in a highly original Abbott.is fundamentally time-referential. All of my existencein this . tationally unworkable once they attempt SociologicalMethods and Research to advancebeyondontologically 'simpli20(4): 428-55. . worldis continuously orderedby its time.251. in other words. Historical Methods 14>50.a collaborative enterprise. Andrew 1992 'FromCauses to porality.the beleagured bishopof Rome. they are rendered compuas Events: Notes on NarrativePositivism'. non-operative the domainof is in social-historical phenomena: certain events JosephM.is. and future temporal considerations. One expedient thatreadilysuggestitself is for historical sociologists include detailed appento diceson sourcematerials. groundsfor uneaserise appreciably. in works of historiography well as in as works of grand historical sociology. The Positivist Dispute in et 17. Adorno. Humanagency. that German Sociology. Theoreticalattentionto the 'temporalstructure everyday is one of of life' the virtuesof PeterBergerand Thomas Luckmann'sThe Social Constructionof Reality. however. D. .5-11. 1990. NewYork:Harper&Row.and to insist to all upon contact with developments. This epistlewasauthoredby Cornelius. VI. More fundamentally. 15. 18. glven ar our fundamental disagreements over methodological procedure. Particularly relevantin this regardis his Abbott. . the major debates.The information gap between research-as-practiced and research-as-presented of course paris tlCU y pernlclousln SOCIO ogy. pp. . for in the earlierfaithwascrucified a hostile addition the by to informativecriticalrestate power.works of anddevelopments 'pivotal'in that they scholarly are synthesis forman indispensable deczsively the arc of histortcal alter possibility. Theodore 1976 'Sociology and 'stages' focusing on only one or two Empirical Research'. 14. ations.186.6v86 in variables. of Science society' Christianand Islamicciviliz. AndrewAbbott's seriesof articles (1988. rudimentarynarrative Adorno. success. The stream consciousness always of is ordered temporally .translated G. constitutivelyinformed by past. Whenever that ratiois low. and is preservedin Eusebius's Ecclesiastical Histoo. . Andrew 1988 'Transcending manner.D.18 note on the reformation required' (1992b). example. i. Let it be noted. Adey by recourse to 'sanitizing abridgements' and and Frisby. distinctivepatternsof The primary for allresearch to endorse data is interfacebetween 'religion' and 'civil the fallacies crudeempiricism. .e. the consewith quence that social actions are to be understood not as episodic events or discrete occurrences. .reflects enduring for the 21. 23: solve problemsof context and temthe Abbott. present. discussingthe secondaryliteratureand the kinds of primary contained data therein.. 20. but as complex durationalprocesses.titioners.43.in otherwords. 19.whereasthe prophetof the viewsof several distinguished praclatter conqueredall before him. is indeed envelopedby it' (1967:26-7). .
Fernand 1980 On Hzstoo. New Webb. New York: of Anchor Books. scientific sociology: A note on the reformation required'. Jennifer 1981 'Evidence and Proof in Documentary Research'. A. Skocpol. Bourdieu. Joseph M. London: Macmillan. Chicago: Rand McNally and Co. New York: Walter de Gruyter. translated by R. Rock. 1991 'The uses of history in sociology: reflections on some recent tendencies'. Bloch. pp. Machlup. Nice. Bryant. Matthews. York: Random House. Putnam. Paul 1976 'Some problems of interpretive historiography'. Peter and T. Peter 1987 A HistooandPhilosophyof the SocialSciences. Bryant. l 991 The Craftof Sociology: Epistemological Preliminaries. in New York: The Free Press. Howard 1970 Sociologzcal Work: Method Substance. Joseph M. Sociological Review 29(1): 3146. New York: Vintage Books. reflexive. Marc 1953 The Historian'sCraft. Wright 1959 The Sociological Imagination. Charles 1981 As Sociology Meets Histoty. British Journalof Sociology 42(2): 211-30. Platt. . Tilly. et al. Theda (ed. 1966 Unobtrusive Measures. Mills. York: Oxford UniverNew sity Press. C. Braudel. British JournalofSociology 27(3): 35349. John H. York: Academic Press.) 1984 Visionand Method Historical in Sociology.Evidence explanation history sociology and in and Becker. Luckmann 1967 The Social Construction Reality. CanadianJournal of Sociology17(3): 32231. translated by P. 'Positivism Redivivus?'.) Philosophy theSocial of Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. translated by S. (1985) Positivismin Social Theoo and Research. Christopher G. Frits 1963 'Are the Social Sciences Really Inferior?'. Berger. Eugene. Pierre et al. in M. 1992b 'Towards a respectable. Natanson (ed. 1992a. arul Chicago: Aldine. Aaron 1964 Method and Measurement Sociology. 19 Goldthorpe. Bryant. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. New Manicas.15v80.Canaduzn Journal of Sociology 17(1): 29-53. Cicourel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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