Political history

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Political history is the narrative and survey of political events, ideas, movements, organs of government, voters, parties and leaders. [1] It is interrelated to other fields of history, especially diplomatic history, as well as constitutional history and public history.

Diplomatic history deals with the history of international relations between states. Diplomatic history can be different from international relations in that the former can concern itself with the foreign policy of one state while the latter deals with relations between two or more states. Diplomatic history tends to be more concerned with the history of diplomacy, but international relations concern more with current events and creating a model intended to shed explanatory light on international politics.

Public history is a broad range of activities undertaken by people with some training in the discipline of history who are generally working outside of specialized academic settings. Public history practice is deeply rooted in the areas of historic preservation, archival science, oral history, museum curatorship, and other related fields. The field has become increasingly professionalized in the United States and Canada since the late 1970s. Some of the most common settings for the practice of public history are museums, historic homes and historic sites, parks, battlefields, archives, film and television companies, and all levels of government.

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Political history studies the organization and operation of power in large societies. By focusing on the elites in power, on their impact on society, on popular response, and on the relationships with the elites in other social history, which focuses predominantly on the actions and lifestyles of ordinary people, [2] or people's history, which is historical work from the perspective of the common people.

Social history, often called the new social history, is a field of history that looks at the lived experience of the past. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. In the two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%. In the history departments of British and Irish universities in 2014, of the 3410 faculty members reporting, 878 (26%) identified themselves with social history while political history came next with 841 (25%).

A people's history, or history from below, is a type of historical narrative which attempts to account for historical events from the perspective of common people rather than leaders. There is an emphasis on disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor, the nonconformists, and otherwise marginal groups. The authors are typically on the left and have a Marxist model in mind, as in the approach of the History Workshop movement in Britain in the 1960s.

In two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, and the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%. [3] In the history departments of British and Irish universities in 2014, of the 3410 faculty members reporting, 878 (26%) identified themselves with social history, and political history came next at 841 (25%) faculty members. [4]

Political world history

The political history of the world is the history of the changes of political events;

The political history of the world is the history of the various political entities created by the human race throughout their existence and the way these states define their borders. Throughout history, political entities have expanded from basic systems of self-governance and monarchy to the complex democratic and totalitarian systems that exist today. In parallel, political systems have expanded from vaguely defined frontier-type boundaries, to the national definite boundaries existing today.

Aspects of political history

The first "scientific" political history was written by Leopold von Ranke in Germany in the 19th century. His methodologies profoundly affected the way historians critically examine sources; see historiography for a more complete analysis of the methodology of various approaches to history. An important aspect of political history is the study of ideology as a force for historical change. One author asserts that "political history as a whole cannot exist without the study of ideological differences and their implications." [5] Studies of political history typically centre around a single nation and its political change and development. Some historians identify the growing trend towards narrow specialization in political history during recent decades: "while a college professor in the 1940s sought to identify himself as a "historian", by the 1950s "American historian" was the designation." [6]

Leopold von Ranke German historian and a founder of modern source-based history

Leopold von Ranke was a German historian and a founder of modern source-based history. According to Caroline Hoefferle, "Ranke was probably the most important historian to shape [the] historical profession as it emerged in Europe and the United States in the late 19th century". He was able to implement the seminar teaching method in his classroom and focused on archival research and analysis of historical documents. Building on the methods of the Göttingen School of History, Ranke set the standards for much of later historical writing, introducing such ideas as reliance on primary sources (empiricism), an emphasis on narrative history and especially international politics (Außenpolitik).

Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches. Scholars discuss historiography by topic—such as the historiography of the United Kingdom, that of WWII, the British Empire, early Islam, and China—and different approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, with the development of academic history, there developed a body of historiographic literature. The extent to which historians are influenced by their own groups and loyalties—such as to their nation state—remains a debated question.

An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. In other words, these rely on basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. The term is especially used to describe systems of ideas and ideals which form the basis of economic or political theories and resultant policies. In these there are tenuous causal links between policies and outcomes owing to the large numbers of variables available, so that many key assumptions have to be made. In political science the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems

From the 1970s onwards, new movements challenged traditional approaches to political history. The development of social history shifted the emphasis away from the study of leaders and national decisions, and towards the role of ordinary people, especially outsiders and minorities. Younger scholars shifted to different issues, usually focused on race, class and gender, with little room for elites. After 1990 social history itself began to fade, replaced with postmodern and cultural approaches that rejected grand narrative.

United States: The new political history

Traditional political history focused on major leaders and had long played a dominant role among academic historians in the United States. These studies accounted for about 25% of the scholarly books and articles written by American historians before 1950, and about 33% into the 1960s, followed by diplomacy. The arrival in the 1960s and 1970s of a new interest in social history led to the emergence of the "new political history" which saw young scholars put much more emphasis on the voters' behavior and motivation, rather than just the politicians. [7] [8] It relied heavily on quantitative methods to integrate social themes, especially regarding ethnicity and religion. [9] The new social science approach was a harbinger of the fading away of interest in Great Men. The eclipse of traditional political approaches during the 1970s was a major shock, though diplomatic history fell even further. It was upstaged by social history, with a race/class/gender model. The number of political articles submitted to the Journal of American History fell by half from 33% to 15%. Patterson argued that contemporary events, especially the Vietnam War and Watergate, alienated younger scholars away from the study of politicians and their deeds. Political history never disappeared, but it never recovered its dominance among scholars, despite its sustained high popularity among the reading public. [10] Some political historians made fun of their own predicament, as when William Leuchtenburg wrote, "the status of the political historians within the profession has sunk to somewhere between that of a faith healer and a chiropractor. Political historians were all right in a way, but you might not want to bring one home to meet the family." [11] Others were more analytical, as when Hugh Davis Graham observed:

The ranks of traditional political historians are depleted, their assumptions and methods discredited, along with the Great White Man whose careers they chronicled. [12]

Britain

Readman (2009) discusses the historiography of British political history in the 20th century. He describes how British political scholarship mostly ignored 20th century history due to temporal proximity to the recent past, the unavailability of primary sources, and the potential for bias. The article explores how transitions in scholarship have allowed for greater interest in 20th century history among scholars, which include less reliance on archival sources, methodological changes in historiography, and the flourishing of new forms of history such as oral history. [13]

Germany

In the course of the 1960s, however, some German historians (notably Hans-Ulrich Wehler and his cohort) began to rebel against this idea, instead suggesting a "Primacy of Domestic Politics" (Primat der Innenpolitik), in which the insecurities of (in this case German) domestic policy drove the creation of foreign policy. This led to a considerable body of work interpreting the domestic policies of various states and the ways this influenced their conduct of foreign policy.

France

The French Annales School had already put an emphasis on the role of geography and economics on history, and of the importance of broad, slow cycles rather than the constant apparent movement of the "history of events" of high politics. It downplayed politics and diplomacy. The most important work of the Annales school, Fernand Braudel's The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, contains a traditional Rankean diplomatic history of Philip II's Mediterranean policy, but only as the third and shortest section of a work largely focusing on the broad cycles of history in the longue durée ("long term"). The Annales were broadly influential, leading to a turning away from political history towards an emphasis on broader trends of economic and environmental change.

Social history

In the 1960s and 1970s, an increasing emphasis on giving a voice to the voiceless and writing the history of the underclasses, whether by using the quantitative statistical methods of social history or the more postmodern assessments of cultural history, also undermined the centrality of politics to the historical discipline. Leff noted how social historians, "disdained political history as elitist, shallow, altogether passe, and irrelevant to the drama of everyday lives." [14]


History of political regimes and institutions

MaxRange is a dataset defining level of democracy and institutional structure(regime-type) on a 100-graded scale where every value represents a unique regimetype. Values are sorted from 1-100 based on level of democracy and political accountability. MaxRange defines the value (regimetype) corresponding to all states and every month from 1789 to 2015 and updating. MaxRange is created and developed by Max Range, and is now associated with the university of Halmstad, Sweden [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Annales school is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century to stress long-term social history. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and monographs. The school has been highly influential in setting the agenda for historiography in France and numerous other countries, especially regarding the use of social scientific methods by historians, emphasizing social and economic rather than political or diplomatic themes.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

The historical school of economics was an approach to academic economics and to public administration that emerged in the 19th century in Germany, and held sway there until well into the 20th century. The professors involved compiled massive economic histories of Germany and Europe. Numerous Americans were their students. The school was opposed by theoretical economists. Prominent leaders included Gustav von Schmoller (1838–1917), and Max Weber (1864–1920) in Germany, and Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) in the United States.

Frederick Jackson Turner American historian

Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century, based at the University of Wisconsin until 1910, and then at Harvard. He was primarily known for his “Frontier Thesis.” He trained many PhDs who came to occupy prominent places in the history profession. He promoted interdisciplinary and quantitative methods, often with a focus on the Midwest. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas formed the Frontier Thesis. He argued that the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character from the colonial era until 1890. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism. In recent years historians and academics have argued strenuously over Turner's work; all agree that the Frontier Thesis has had an enormous impact on historical scholarship and the American soul.

Historiography of the French Revolution Wikimedia list article

The historiography of the French Revolution stretches back over two hundred years, as commentators and historians have sought to answer questions regarding the origins of the Revolution, and its meaning and effects. By the year 2000, many historians were saying that the field of the French Revolution was in intellectual disarray. The old model or paradigm focusing on class conflict has been challenged but no new explanatory model had gained widespread support. Nevertheless, there persists a very widespread agreement to the effect that the French Revolution was the watershed between the premodern and modern eras of Western history.

Cultural history combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past matter, encompassing the continuum of events pertaining to a culture.

Comparative history is the comparison of different societies which existed during the same time period or shared similar cultural conditions.

Merle Eugene Curti was a leading American historian, who taught many graduate students at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin, and was a leader in developing the fields of social history and intellectual history. He directed 86 finished Ph.D. dissertations and had an unusually wide range of correspondents. As a Progressive historian he was deeply committed to democracy, and to the Turnerian thesis that social and economic forces shape American life, thought and character. He was a pioneer in peace studies, intellectual history, and social history, and helped develop quantitative methods based on census samples as a tool in historical research.

Urban history is a field of history that examines the historical nature of cities and towns, and the process of urbanization. The approach is often multidisciplinary, crossing boundaries into fields like social history, architectural history, urban sociology, urban geography, business history, and archaeology. Urbanization and industrialization were popular themes for 20th-century historians, often tied to an implicit model of modernization, or the transformation of rural traditional societies.

History The study of the past as it is described in written documents.

History is the past as it is described in written documents, and the study thereof. Events occurring before written records are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

Historiography of the British Empire How the British Empires history is framed

The historiography of the British Empire refers to the studies, sources, critical methods and interpretations used by scholars to develop a history of Britain's empire. Historians and their ideas are the focus here; specific lands and historical dates and episodes are covered in the article on the British Empire. Scholars have long studied the Empire, looking at the causes for its formation, its relations to the French and other empires, and the kinds of people who became imperialists or anti-imperialists, together with their mindsets. The history of the breakdown of the Empire has attracted scholars of the histories of the United States, India, and the African colonies. John Darwin (2013) identifies four imperial goals: colonizing, civilizing, converting, and commerce.

Bielefeld School

The Bielefeld School is a group of German historians based originally at Bielefeld University who promote social history and political history using quantification and the methods of political science and sociology. The leaders include Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Jürgen Kocka and Reinhart Koselleck. Instead of emphasizing the personalities of great historical leaders, as in the conventional approach, it concentrates on socio-cultural developments. History as "historical social science" has mainly been explored in the context of studies of German society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The movement has published the scholarly journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft: Zeitschrift fur Historische Sozialwissenschaft since 1975.

Historiography of the United States

The historiography of the United States refers to the studies, sources, critical methods and interpretations used by scholars to study the history of the United States. While history examines the interplay of events in the past, historiography examines the secondary sources written by historians as books and articles, evaluates the primary sources they use, and provides a critical examination of the methodology of historical study.

The historiography of religion is how historians have studied religion in terms of themes, sources and conflicting ideas. Historians typically focus on one particular topic in the overall history of religions - in terms of geographical area or of theological tradition.

The historiography of the United Kingdom includes the historical and archival research and writing on the history of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For studies of the overseas empire see historiography of the British Empire.

Historiography of Germany

The historiography of Germany deals with the manner in which historians have depicted, analyzed and debated the History of Germany. It also covers the popular memory of critical historical events, ideas and leaders, as well as the depiction of those events in museums, monuments, reenactments, pageants and historic sites, and the editing of historical documents.

Paul Andrew Readman, FRHistS, is a political and cultural historian. He is Professor in Modern British History at King's College London, where he was Head of the History Department (2008–12) and as of 2018 is Vice-Dean for Research.

References

  1. Politics: The historical development of economic, legal, and political ideas and institutions, ideologies and movements. In The Dictionary of the History of Ideas.
  2. Parthasarathi, Prasannan, "The State and Social History [ permanent dead link ]
  3. Diplomatic dropped from 5% to 3%, economic history from 7% to 5%, and cultural history grew from 14% to 16%. Based on full-time professors in U.S. history departments. Stephen H. Haber, David M. Kennedy, and Stephen D. Krasner, "Brothers under the Skin: Diplomatic History and International Relations," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer, 1997), pp. 34-43 at p. 4 2; online at JSTOR
  4. See "History Online:Teachers of History" accessed 1/21/2014
  5. Freeman, Joanne B., "Founding Bothers" Archived 2007-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Richard J. Jensen, Historiography of American Political History. In Jack Greene, ed., Encyclopedia of American Political History (New York: Scribner's, 1984), vol 1. pp 1-25
  7. Allan G. Bogue, "United States: The 'new' political history." Journal of Contemporary History (1968) 3#1 pp: 5-27. in JSTOR
  8. Allan G. Bogue, "The new political history in the 1970s." in Michael G. Kammen, ed., The Past Before Us: Contemporary Historical Writing in the United States (1980) pp: 231-251.
  9. Robert P. Swierenga, "Ethnocultural political analysis: a new approach to American ethnic studies," Journal of American Studies (1971) 5#1 pp: 59-79.
  10. James T. Patterson, "The Persistence of Political History" in Richard S. Kirkendall, ed. The Organization of American Historians and the Writing and Teaching of American History (2011) pp 67-74; his statistical estimates appear on pp 70, 72
  11. William Leuchenburg, "The Pertinence of Political History: Reflection on the Significance of the State In America," Journal of American History (Dec. 1986) 73:585-600 in JSTOR
  12. Hugh Davis Graham, "The stunted career of policy history: a critique and an agenda." The Public Historian (1993): 15-37. in JSTOR
  13. Readman (2009)
  14. Mark H. Leff, "Revisioning US political history." American Historical Review (1995) 100#3 pp: 829-853, quote p 829. in JSTOR
  15. http://www.hh.se/english/schoolofeducationhumanitiesandsocialsciences/research/maxrange.65441985_en.html

Further reading