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Two-Faced Status Of History: Between The Humanities And Social Sciences


  • Irina Savelieva

    (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


In modern academia, history is occasionally classified as a social science. My aim is to demonstrate why history has not become a ‘real’ social science, although historians who represent the most advanced trends within the discipline aspired to this. Two-faced status of history is problematized as a conflict between social theory and historical method when historians adopt the theories of the social sciences. I consider two topics to be central here: the uneasy relationship between social theories and methods, and the indispensability of the cognitive potential of the humanities. Although historians have sought theoretical renewal by turning to the theories of various social sciences, they rarely could use techniques that represent ways of cognition normally used by sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, etc. – psychometric testing, sociometric monitoring, ethnographic description, in-depth interview, long-term observation. This situation has undeniable positive effects. The impossibility of using social science techniques ensures the autonomy of history and enables it to preserve its disciplinary core. At the same time, dealing with meanings and using the cognitive methods of the humanities, history can catch things more ephemeral than trends, patterns, mechanisms and statistical rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Irina Savelieva, 2015. "Two-Faced Status Of History: Between The Humanities And Social Sciences," HSE Working papers WP BRP 83/HUM/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:83hum2015

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    the humanities; social sciences; history; theory; method; symbolic interactionism; cultural interpretation; vague theories;
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    • Z - Other Special Topics

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