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Historiography

D. The Approach of Historians to the Issue of Causation

You will now learn a bit more about how historians have approached the thorny issue of causation.

Read through this table as a class and tackle the Discussion Points as you go along:

 

Key Factor

Timescale

Big Question

Concept of Progress

Details

Whig Historians

Great Men

Short Term Factors

Where have we come from?

Peaceful, evolutionary progress

Macauley had two key ideas:
1. The driving force in history was individuals acting with free will [more]
2. History was a story of progress leading up to high point of the present age: the past was judged on present day values [more]

Discussion Point

Marxist Historians

Economics

Mid-Term

Where are we going?

Violent, revolutionary progress

Karl Marx said that economic forces dictated the overall strategy of history; individuals just provided the tactics [more]

Discussion Point

Annales Historians

Geography

Long-Term

Are we going anywhere?

Question whole notion of progress

Fernand Braudel argues that individuals and even societies are merely short-term ripples on mid-term waves subject to long-term tides [more]

Discussion Point

Questions

1. Try to summarise the essential differences between the three main historiographical schools listed here in no more than 100 words.

2. How would MacAuley, Marx and Braudel each have explained the death of Billy Elliot described earlier?

3. Which of these historiographical schools do you belong most clearly to?

 

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