Was heißt Sozialgeschichte?

Brüche und Kontinuitäten in der Aneignung des ,Sozialen'


  • Reinhard Sieder Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Universität Wien




In the last decades ,Social History' has become one of the most successful and expanding disciplines. Nevertheless there is still a remarkable Jack of reflection on the logical and conceptual framework of ,society', the ,social' and ,social change', terms which fundamentally determine the discourse of ,Social History'. The author gives a rough survey of the gradual institutionalization of ,Social History' and of the different meanings of the ,social' from the beginnings of ,Social History' in the 1880's till today. He stresses three main stages as being important for the development of the discipline: the period of the ,political reductionism', discriminating the ,social' (about 1880-1920); the period of the gradual emancipation of the ,social', rejecting the hegemony of the ,political' (up from the 1920's), mainly influenced by the French group of the ,Annales' and their concept of the social relational structures and long-term changes in macro structures; the new attempt of a more precise re-definition of the ,social', including analyzation of ,structures' as weil as of ,action', ,behavior' and ,experience'. Denying priorities, the author proclaims the absolute necessity of both ,qualifying' and ,quantifying' methods for a future ,Social History' as weil as the importance of close connections with other social sciences. In addition he postulates that the social historians should place more emphasis on the strict and empiristic reconstruction of the meaning of the sources instead of still referring to an idealistic way of Verstehen. Only on these promises can ,Social History' be termed ,Historical Social Science' (Historische Sozialwissenschaft).