Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation
by William H. Sewell Jr. (2005)
Discussion Leader: Elizabeth Ashcroft Terry-Roisin
“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.” Source: publisher’s website
William H. Sewell’s Logics of History is a helpful book for a number of reasons. First, it is a personal book, written by a more quantitative, social historian who took the cultural turn. Secondly, it is at the same time a chronological narrative of how the field has changed over time, and a topical discussion of the role politics play in the writing of social history, the meaning of culture, the debate determining the role of human agency vs. structure, and the relationship between historical and social science methodology. The author is an expert in the history of eighteenth and nineteenth century France.