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Tocqueville, Martineau

15 Pages

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Irving Zeitlin

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SOC203YHistory of Social Theory10Jan2011Ideologythe Development of Sociological TheoryTocqueville Martineau TaylorMillAny sociology worth its salt must be historicalThere is no way to understand anything in the human condition without studying historyWhen we studied Machiavelli and others we said that memory is to the individual as history is to societyFor exampleif we perish the thought that any of us may have a medical problem and we want to solicit an additional medical opinion the first question that a doctor will ask is about medical historyThe reason Dr Zeitlin is emphasizing this is that we are going to be discussing one of the really outstanding historical sociologists and Zeitlin wants to explain what that is and how it differs to just historyThere are three 3 basic elements to what we would call historical sociologyThe three elements are concerned with social structure ie the social context of the given historical event or historical individualsif we want to understand how Hitler came to power we want to understand the contextWe have to know the history of what came before itthis would apply to any exampleThe three elements include1Social structure2History3BiographyBiography means a concern with who the historical individuals wereFor example individuals like Alexander the Great Julius Caesar Napoleon Lennon Stalin Maoclearly they stand out as historical individualsTherefore we need to study not only the context ie social structure of a given society at that particular moment but we also have to look at the historical background we also have to consider who these individuals are and how important are theyIn other words we are interested in the causal weightCould there have been a Balasivic revolution if the Germans hadnt let Lennon back into Russia Another examplewhat if a brick had fallen on Napoleons head while he was still a corporal would French history have been different after the French RevolutionThese are what we call counterfactuals What is the difference between a historian on the one hand and a historical sociologistZeitlin thinks that the most outstanding historians drew more than what he is about to say but if we define history as a unique and unrepeatable series of events ie there was only one Julius Caesar there was only one Napoleon there was only one Mao etcWhen we studied Machiavelli he suggested that we have this dj vu and even though history doesnt repeat itself literally there is a sense metaphorically that we see things happening that remind us of what happened in the past and it helps us to interpret a given event For example we might say the historian studies Julius Caesar but the historical sociologist studies Caesarismie when Mussolini marched on Rome the techniques he used and the strategy he used remind us of Julius CaesarIf history is a unique and unrepeatable series of events then a historian would just tell you the storyit becomes a narrative they will tell you what happenedThat is why in elementary school they referred to history as a storyIn contrast the historical sociologist is interested in explaining thingsShe is interested in causes and consequencesHence today we are going to talk about the old regime and the French RevolutionSomebody like Tocqueville does not merely tell us what happened but he also wants to explain the causes of the French Revolution and not only causes he wants to explain the consequences of the RevolutionIt is true that most historians and indeed intelligent people like your parents recognize that this as common sense and probably that this SOC203YHistory of Social Theory10Jan2011historical sociological approach that Zeitlin is describing with an attention to context and history and biography is built into their intellectual consciousness
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