Tags

Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter

On sources and narratives in historical social science: a realist critique of positivist and postmodernist epistemologies.
Br J Sociol. 2000 Sep; 51(3):489-523.BJ

Abstract

Critics of the interdisciplinary enterprise of historical sociology commonly contend that the narrational accounts of past social phenomena provided by historians are inadequate to the task of theory-building and testing. In support of this negative assessment, opponents will adduce informational deficiencies in the available data (the standard positivist appraisal of historical evidence), or cite the interpretive anarchy that seemingly prevails at the narrative phase of emplotment (the skeptical, postmodernist contention that historiographic texts 'construct' rather than veridically represent the events they artfully contrive to signify). Both of these lines of criticism are unbalanced, and therefore seriously misleading as regards the epistemic foundations of historical-sociological inquiry. The 'social authenticity' and 'informational density' of historical evidence does allow for veridical reconstructions of the past, while the reflexive interpretive protocols of source criticism and the sociology of knowledge can be deployed to provide warrant for discriminating arbitrations between competing theories and narratives. The various epistemological deformations in the study of human affairs that have been encouraged by the old idiographic-nomothetic polarity - chronic ahistoricism within the social sciences, the atheoretical predilections of much conventional historiography - are rectifiable through the consolidation of a fully integrated sociological history, a unified and inclusive historical social science.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Sociology, University of Toronto.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

11038134

Citation

Bryant, J M.. "On Sources and Narratives in Historical Social Science: a Realist Critique of Positivist and Postmodernist Epistemologies." The British Journal of Sociology, vol. 51, no. 3, 2000, pp. 489-523.
Bryant JM. On sources and narratives in historical social science: a realist critique of positivist and postmodernist epistemologies. Br J Sociol. 2000;51(3):489-523.
Bryant, J. M. (2000). On sources and narratives in historical social science: a realist critique of positivist and postmodernist epistemologies. The British Journal of Sociology, 51(3), 489-523.
Bryant JM. On Sources and Narratives in Historical Social Science: a Realist Critique of Positivist and Postmodernist Epistemologies. Br J Sociol. 2000;51(3):489-523. PubMed PMID: 11038134.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - On sources and narratives in historical social science: a realist critique of positivist and postmodernist epistemologies. A1 - Bryant,J M, PY - 2000/10/19/pubmed PY - 2001/2/28/medline PY - 2000/10/19/entrez SP - 489 EP - 523 JF - The British journal of sociology JO - Br J Sociol VL - 51 IS - 3 N2 - Critics of the interdisciplinary enterprise of historical sociology commonly contend that the narrational accounts of past social phenomena provided by historians are inadequate to the task of theory-building and testing. In support of this negative assessment, opponents will adduce informational deficiencies in the available data (the standard positivist appraisal of historical evidence), or cite the interpretive anarchy that seemingly prevails at the narrative phase of emplotment (the skeptical, postmodernist contention that historiographic texts 'construct' rather than veridically represent the events they artfully contrive to signify). Both of these lines of criticism are unbalanced, and therefore seriously misleading as regards the epistemic foundations of historical-sociological inquiry. The 'social authenticity' and 'informational density' of historical evidence does allow for veridical reconstructions of the past, while the reflexive interpretive protocols of source criticism and the sociology of knowledge can be deployed to provide warrant for discriminating arbitrations between competing theories and narratives. The various epistemological deformations in the study of human affairs that have been encouraged by the old idiographic-nomothetic polarity - chronic ahistoricism within the social sciences, the atheoretical predilections of much conventional historiography - are rectifiable through the consolidation of a fully integrated sociological history, a unified and inclusive historical social science. SN - 0007-1315 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/11038134/On_sources_and_narratives_in_historical_social_science:_a_realist_critique_of_positivist_and_postmodernist_epistemologies_ L2 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/openurl?genre=article&sid=nlm:pubmed&issn=0007-1315&date=2000&volume=51&issue=3&spage=489 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -