A Caltech Library Service

Social History: Problems, Strategies and Methods [Book Review]

Kousser, J. Morgan (2000) Social History: Problems, Strategies and Methods [Book Review]. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 31 (2). pp. 247-248. ISSN 0022-1953. doi:10.1162/002219500551541.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


New Zealand social historian Fairburn’s textbook on research design and argumentation should be widely adopted for graduate classes in history. Drawing on the philosophy of science, Fairburn questions the widespread practices in social history of, for instance, generalizing from isolated instances, unsystematically assessing differences and similarities between and within various groups, and evaluating interpretations on mainly stylistic or ideological grounds, instead of on the basis of the logic and power of their models. Although he persuasively criticizes the cultural relativism of postmodernist and hermeneutic approaches as self-refuting, he is better, and more comfortable, discussing such “soft” stances than he is discussing economics and other “hard” social sciences— which he virtually ignores, despite economists’ numerous contributions to social history—or statistical methods—which he distrusts when authors cannot completely explain them in simple terms to skeptical innumerates.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription review review publisher
Additional Information:© 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Book review of: Social History: Problems, Strategies and Methods. By Miles Fairburn. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780312221232
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131008-155143367
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:41761
Deposited By: SWORD User
Deposited On:09 Oct 2013 17:10
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 04:34

Repository Staff Only: item control page