Academic journal article Journal of Social History

Part V: Opportunities for the Future

Academic journal article Journal of Social History

Part V: Opportunities for the Future

Article excerpt

Social history has matured as a field. It has lost some of the zeal of youth. It has been shaped by a series of new topical interests and theoretical approaches, some clearly beneficial, some verging on the faddish. It needs now to reassert some older claims, while avoiding mere reaction, while realizing the contributions of more recent approaches, and while continuing to innovate outright. It needs to recognize the dispersion of social historians in a variety of interdisciplinary programs and projects, both inside and outside the academy, while insisting on some core concerns and shared conversations.

This is the context in which the following essays deal with issues and possibilities for social history in the future. Some talk about utilizing but surmounting the cultural turn, dealing with cultural issues in combination with considerations of social structure and lived experience. Two papers point toward enhancing connections with environmental history and with social scientific inquiry with which social history once engaged and where new possibilities are emerging; cultural issues are not absent here, but emphasis goes toward new connections with science, with quantitative analysis, and with engagement with the institutional and material arrangements that, with culture, explain what societies are and how they function. …

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