Comparative Historical Sociology essay sample



Comparative historical sociology analyzes large-scale social transformations. Revolutions, rise of capitalism, democratization, formation of the welfare-states happened to all European societies at a certain stage of their development. The modern era of comparative historical sociology started with Max Weber and Karl Marx who tried to understand transformations brought by the industrial revolution in Europe. They attempted to read the whole bulk of secondary historical sources available on this topic in order to answer rather theoretical questions. In a while, American scholars turned to the theories of functionalism, modernization, and survey. The classical kind of comparative historical sociology was reviewed by Barrington Moore and his students who searched for the explanation of such social events as revolution and state formation.

The appearance of the modern nation state and its specific political forms was one of the major concerns of comparative historical sociology. From this perspective, sociology is able to answer the question why some societies became democratic and the other did not. Scholars investigated how the role of the bourgeoisie, labor-repressive landlords, and the working class affected a certain form of political organization emerging in any particular society taking into account their historical experience in state building.

Comparative historical sociology has three methodological divisions. The first one is a traditional narrative historiography of Max Weber and Barrington Moore which focuses on close reading of the primary documents and the secondary sources. The second methodological approach uses statistical techniques such as event history analysis and time series analysis. It appeared as scholars tried to construct statistical alternatives to the traditional historical techniques, however, their efforts were criticized. The last approach is aimed at the development of original research techniques and tools which suit best to the analysis of research over some time.

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