Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation

Paperback | August 1, 2005

byWilliam H. Sewell Jr.

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While social scientists and historians have been exchanging ideas for a long time, they have never developed a proper dialogue about social theory. William H. Sewell Jr. observes that on questions of theory the communication has been mostly one way: from social science to history. Logics of History argues that both history and the social sciences have something crucial to offer each other. While historians do not think of themselves as theorists, they know something social scientists do not: how to think about the temporalities of social life. On the other hand, while social scientists’ treatments of temporality are usually clumsy, their theoretical sophistication and penchant for structural accounts of social life could offer much to historians.

Renowned for his work at the crossroads of history, sociology, political science, and anthropology, Sewell argues that only by combining a more sophisticated understanding of historical time with a concern for larger theoretical questions can a satisfying social theory emerge. In Logics of History, he reveals the shape such an engagement could take, some of the topics it could illuminate, and how it might affect both sides of the disciplinary divide.

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While social scientists and historians have been exchanging ideas for a long time, they have never developed a proper dialogue about social theory. William H. Sewell Jr. observes that on questions of theory the communication has been mostly one way: from social science to history. Logics of History argues that both history and the soci...

From the Jacket

While social scientists and historians have been exchanging ideas for a long time, they have never developed a proper dialogue about social theory. William H. Sewell Jr. observes that on questions of theory the communication has been mostly one way: from social science to history. Logics of History argues that both history and the soci...

William H. Sewell Jr. is the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of three previous books, including Work and Revolution in France and A Rhetoric of Bourgeois Revolution.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:376 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:August 1, 2005Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226749185

ISBN - 13:9780226749181

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Table of Contents

Preface
1. Theory, History, and Social Science
2. The Political Unconscious of Social and Cultural History, or, Confessions of a Former Quantitative Historian
3. Three Temporalities: Toward an Eventful Sociology
4. A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation
5. The Concept(s) of Culture
6. History, Synchrony, and Culture: Reflections on the Work of Clifford Geertz
7. A Theory of the Event: Marshall Sahlins's "Possible Theory of History"
8. Historical Events as Transformations of Structures: Inventing Revolution at the Bastille  
9. Historical Duration and Temporal Complexity: The Strange Career of Marseille's Dockworkers, 1814-70
10. Refiguring the "Social" in Social Science: An Interpretivist Manifesto
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

"This rigorously argued treatise on the social theoretical implications of the contingent, sequential, and fateful character of human action may prove to be the most important theoretically engaged book written by a professional historian in the past generation. . . . An ideal text for any graduate course in 'theory and history' and for any campus's cross-disciplinary faculty seminar."