Methods and Cases in Historical Sociology

Term: Fall 2010

Subject Code: GSOC

Course Number: 6136

Methods and Cases in Historical Sociology

This course examines how social theory and historical evidence can be brought to bear on each other; it looks from the one (theoretical) side at what is involved in applying specific theories to historical problems, and considers from the other (empirical-historical) side how historical cases can be used to ground and inform sociological theories. There is little treatment of debates in the philosophy of the social sciences. The approach of the course is rather to analyze closely a number of "exemplary" works in historical sociology, which are chosen to illustrate a wide range of research strategies, theoretical orientations, methodological tools, and substantive themes. The focus of the course throughout is on methodological issues: on questions of research design; on concept formation; on the use of general theories, formal models, ideal types, historically-bounded concepts; on the selection of historical evidence; and, more generally, on the practical connections between sociology and the historical disciplines. While the course will serve as a general introduction to historical methods in sociology, it can also provide students the opportunity to develop their own historically-based research projects.

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