Historical And Sociological Knowledge As Method For Studying Globalized Social Changes


The article is devoted to the study of the interdisciplinary approach to the social process. The authors define the object and subject of historical sociology. Historical sociology reveals, defines and formulates patterns of social development. The study identifies the relationship and interaction of historical and social time. Historical consciousness reflects the chronology of events, the change of generations, the interdependence of the past, present and future, and reproduces the social space of society. Historical and sociological analysis is an instrument for effective transformation of social relations. Historical sociology designs the evolution of society. The research problem is that civilizational and formational approaches focusing on emerging and disappearing civilizations and postulated linearity of development and modernization, ignore "everyday life" as a criterion for historical and sociological knowledge evaluating social time. Historical and sociological interdisciplinary knowledge helps identify patterns of social development, predict and design the trajectory of its transformation. Historical and sociological analysis examines both the individual and the particular in the historical process of social development. It reveals common, typological, classified features, connections, dependencies and relationships in the field of interaction between historical and sociological knowledge in the process of analyzing countless individual and specific phenomena, social processes. Historical and sociological methodology carrying out critical analysis of the past is a sociological toolkit for transformation of social relations.

Keywords: Historical sociologysocial changeeveryday life


Social changes involve different processes that intersect, flow in parallel, are interdependent or contradict each other. At each stage of its development, the society focuses these processes at a certain point. Social changes are multivariate trajectories of social development which intersect at bifurcation points. History and modern social processes determine a path of transformation. Historical and sociological analysis of social life is a method for studying social changes.

Problem Statement

Objectivity of historical and sociological knowledge was identified by philosophers of history in the XVIII century. They analyzed social development using specific historical materials (Ingovatov, Melekhin, & Kolokoltsev, 2016). In the 19th century, sociology defining the object and subject of scientific research set the task to study static and dynamic social relations (Ingovatov, Melekhin, & Kolokoltsev, 2017). Sociologists, adherents of the theory of linear evolution of society and the local-civilizational approach, sought to reveal the internal continuous connection of changing social systems and mankind development. Rationally building historical facts, historical sociology began to determine laws governing social relations. It identified the problematic nature of formational and civilizational approaches, showed their limitations and suggested the methodological synthesis, showing its advantages.

Civilizational and formational approaches focusing on emerging and disappearing civilizations and postulated linearity of development and modernization, ignore "everyday life" as a criterion for historical and sociological knowledge evaluating social time. Historical and sociological knowledge is a factor “when, within the framework of existing knowledge, a more or less extensive area of ignorance of the causes of a certain range of phenomena and processes appears” (Babasov, 2009).

Research Questions

Gradually researchers moved on to studying facts and events of human life of specific social time and space. Having realized their scientific unity, sociologists and historians began to study the abstract and concrete time of the socio-historical process, formation of a single socio-historical space. A. M. Korshunov, Yu. A. Levada, V. F. Shapovalov, A. N. Loy, E. V. Shinkaruk, M. I. Lelekova, V. P. Polikarpov, V. A. Artemov, A. F. Losev, A. Ya. Gurevich, A. I. Rakitov, G. A. Antipov, M. A. Barg, M. Ya. Bobrov, N.S. Rozov et al. conduct psychological, cultural, and sociological studies on the role of space and time in different human communities (Maslovsky, 2007).

The specificity of each component of time is determined by its attitude which can be felt from the inside and expressed in scientific analysis. The Russian sociologist E.V. de Roberti wrote: “The public should be studied using both facts and mental processes, and historical facts and processes which express the spiritual life of the past or modern generations. The first type of research embraces the initial stages of the public, the psychophysical interaction, in which the above-organic phenomenon differs from the organic one; the second one embraces scientific facts, religious, philosophical, practical, technical, economic, legal and political facts (de Roberti, 1909).

Historical sociology set the task to discover the natural progression of social forces. For example, L.I. Mechnikov and A.I. Stronin argued that the main driving force is social changes of the energy of the social nature of the organism consisting of social cultural and social and economic factors. The growth of any creature is determined by assimilation of organic forces from the outside world. Having justified the objectivity of historical sociology by evolution in nature, the sociologists began to explain the history of mankind. Descriptive sociology was natural history of human societies.

Historical and sociological approaches began to reveal universal laws of human development. Sociologist E.V. de-Roberti explained: “The natural and necessary course of inductive thought is to move from the study of specific historical facts governed by second-order laws to the knowledge of abstract sociological truths rationed by first-order laws. In the first part of the journey, we achieve only empirical generalizations which can become theoretical or scientific only after establishing their connection with results obtained due to the discovery of abstract sociological rules”(De-Roberti, 1909).

Researchers assume that the synthesized knowledge in the forms “historical approach”, “sociological analysis” is a single discipline specified by the category “historical-sociological time” which will be described below.

Purpose of the Study

Historical and sociological interdisciplinary knowledge helps identify patterns of social development, predict and design the trajectory of its transformation. M. Foucault remarked: “History moves by ideas. But ideas draw their strengths from the idea of the absolute. Therefore, if we open the law that governs the development of the latter, then we will understand everything else” (Foucault, 1994).

Research Methods

In fact, we are talking about the methodology of historical sociology defining the methodology as a science, “whose main subject is methods of scientific knowledge. The task of the methodology is to discover, summarize and explain the ways of obtaining scientific knowledge” (Markovich, 1993). It will be shown on the basis of a synthesis of historical and sociological knowledge claiming to analyze globalization processes in the world. In our opinion, the methodology of historical sociology is sociology, a theoretical science which reveals the objective logic of formation of human society in its historical development. E.V. De-Roberti wrote: “not a single thought, not a single belief can go beyond the field of observation and experience, cannot free itself from the rule of the laws of logic; we can deal with “consciousness whose secret curves are never illuminated by the rays of knowledge” only by defining “unconscious” and other types of purely biological consciousness ”(De-Roberty, 1909).

Historical and sociological analysis examines both the individual and the particular in the historical process of social development. It reveals common, typological, classified features, connections, dependencies and relationships in the field of interaction between historical and sociological knowledge in the process of analyzing countless individual and specific phenomena, social processes. Historical and sociological methodology carrying out critical analysis of the past is a sociological toolkit for transformation of social relations. Historical and sociological analysis reveals causal connections between phenomena and thereby explains historical events and social actions of individuals in the social process. According to N.A. Serno-Solovyevich, statistics and comparative analysis of historical facts “embraces a greater number of phenomena” (Serno-Solovyevich, 1963).


Fixing the chronology of events with the help of written sources, time forms historical and social consciousness. The event contains time layers. Historical time consists of several levels of time which allows measuring social time by cycles of decades, twenty years and centuries, fixing the form and structure of daily life of people. According to F. Braudel, for the historian, the structure “is an ensemble, an architecture of social phenomena, it is a historical reality, stable and slowly changing in time” (Braudel, 1986).

E. Giddens combined historical and social time highlighting: “1) the level of everyday, routine life; 2) the level of human life; 3) the level of existence of social institutions” (Giddens, 1996). The range of research problems included daily lives of people. The concept of "everyday life" was intrusion into sociological issues. Historical time ended and social time began. Social memory is restored and gains importance in human thinking relying on collective landmarks in space and time (Giddens, 1996).

In everyday life, historical time is in contact with sociological time. Sociological understanding of everyday life attracts various types of social knowledge. The daily life of people, introduced by the Annals of the historical school, has become the measure of historical processes. The category “everyday life” is fundamental for analysis of historical and sociological time-space, since it combines historical and sociological assessments of facts and phenomena combining the future, present and past.

Analysis of the historical and sociological time-space is based on the dynamics of the flow of social substance represented by a human, a group, a society and humanity producing historical life in the process of biosocial changes of generations, when the social matter moves from the past through the everyday of the present into the future. Social time and space are divided into sociological time-space and historical time-space which manifest themselves in a change of generations.

Alternating generations reproduced in the process of movement of historical time-space do not unequivocally evolve to sociological time-space during the progress of sociality. Regression of the movement of sociological time to historical time is possible. Historical time and sociological time reflect social time of a person, group, society humanity, expressed in the movement of generations from bio-historical time of alternating generations to sociological time of everyday generation. Bio-historical time is understood as “population time” used in ethnography, genetics. Due to the continuity of connections between generations, their interrelation is expressed in objectification of historical time-space and sociological time-space.

The historical sociological element of the time-space change is categories "continuity" and "sequence". Historical generational change time and sociological generational time are discrete, discontinuous and continuous. Historical and sociological time is symmetrical. The sociological time of generation, the change of generations and changed generations are symmetrical.

A change of generations creates traditions that link the past and the present. Relationship with the past is inherited due to the nature of society. R. Rorty noted that research work involves reconciling the old and the new, and our professional function is to be an honest intermediary between generations, between spheres of cultural activity and between traditions. Historical sociology reveals the means of culture that reveal principles it is based on and guide people towards reunification in order to form an ideal model of society.

The social ideal is the goal and the driving force of history. The ideal plays the role of event classification criteria. The events of the past are approved or condemned in accordance with the ideal. Through the movement from one generation to another, with a possible return to the original form at a different level, activities are exchanged between different generations, and social intelligence is formed. It is a set of intellectual capacities of society affecting management of present and future in order to ensure social harmony and development effectiveness. Social intelligence which designs, forecasts, creates "norms of expediency" is the unity of science, culture, education and social consciousness. Education, family and other social institutions reproduce social intelligence.

Historical sociologists study the paths of movement to the common good. In his speech delivered on February 3, 1908, E.V. de Roberti said: “For almost 30 years, I have defended adequacy of a biosocial theory. One of its main provisions can be formulated as follows: if a social or supranorganic phenomenon always follows a biological fact, it always precedes a psychological fact. Only from the depths of the collective soul a public individual, a moral person can break through to the light” (De-Roberty, 1909). M.M. Kovalevsky argued inconsistency of the opposition of the individual to the collective: “the progress of the individual is unthinkable without the progress of the public” (Kovalevsky, 2010). The will of all people is not a universal will, since it represents a simple sum of individual wills emanating from private interests.

Consciousness reflects and transforms interactions of successively alternating generations, appropriating, distributing, consuming knowledge which is developed on the basis of historical and social connections of people, and individual consciousness (Mamardashvili, 1968). Considering human consciousness as a product of the production of life, sociologists conclude that "... people have a history because they have to produce their lives in a certain way." E.V. de Roberti wrote: “However, only comparing individual experience generated and controlled by collective experience with individual experience withdrawn from this influence (in order to find personal experience independent of the common experience, you need to go down to the animal world), we can talk about objective knowledge, oppose it to the subjective knowledge” (De-Roberti, 1909).

The length of the historical and sociological space is due to the fact that between social groups there are opposing relations of spiritual products consumption and distribution in the process of circulation of thoughts and ideas. P.A. Sorokin understood social space as follows: “there is a certain universe consisting of the population of the Earth. To determine the position of a person or any social phenomenon in a social space, it is necessary to define his attitude towards other people and other social phenomena taken as reference points” (Sorokin, 1992).

The length of the historical and sociological space is expressed in everyday life, in which there is a cycle of knowledge transmitted from one generation to another. If consumption of intellectual products and their distribution among social groups is constant in time, then the historical and sociological space of everyday life is continuous. If there are no relations between social groups, the historical and sociological space of society is discrete. The continuity of the historical and sociological space is made up of generations changing in history, and the discreteness is a fact of sociological analysis of generations limited by time frames (generation of soldiers, the sixties, etc.)

Time is capable of constructing and regulating social life, forming personalities that create time. Time is perceived differently in different eras by different personalities. Subjectively experiencing time, the individual perceives his identity. E. Durkheim defined social time as a social fact of "collective representation", as emanation of collective experience and social organization of society. Time reflects the rhythm of collective actions, adjusts them. P.A. Sorokin and R. Merton analyzed social time as a prerequisite for an orderly social life (Sorokin, 1999).

Historical life is produced simultaneously with formation of historical consciousness. In the process of its formation, scientific and everyday knowledge is involved. The past, the present, the future of the analysis of historical and sociological time-space is realized through historical consciousness which links social experience of the subject with the value world of culture. Historical consciousness prevents illusions from penetrating into the society. A.I. Stronin writes that a human instinctively strives for society, but he does not know how to manage society: “On the way from instinct to knowledge, there is one transitional stage that apparently dominates in public life. It is an opinion which is a motivated instinct justified by some arguments, or perhaps it is knowledge, but knowledge which is private, not universal, a subjective truth. The opinion which is not supported by positive knowledge is only an instinct” (Stronin, 1869).

The collective nature of consciousness is generated by the historical law of growth of ideal determination in history. Circulation of knowledge in science and society is a kind of circuit involving the exchange of ideas. Distribution and consumption of knowledge represents a semicircle of social intelligence. Social relations are subject to the functional-structural law of historical sociology (Bobrov, 1999). This law is a law of competitive continuity of knowledge, moving from the past to the present and in the reverse order, filling the functional aspect of the law with the substantive-logical essence.

The process of mastering social intelligence produces new ideas as a result of a reflection of the reflection, the interchange of generations. A man with his own resources appropriates knowledge in the process of social activity. Consumption of social intelligence is interrelated with achievements of other generations. The perception of social time is manifested in compliance with customs and beliefs. Social thought is created by collective memories that are reconstructed in the modern social framework. The observation of recurring events under different conditions helps formulate laws.


Sociologists determine a multivariate path of development. E.V. de Roberti wrote: “we will agree with you that, apart from the logic of facts, there must be another logic in science, namely, that you are so afraid to offend by including the law governing the constant ratio of food to the population in the system of political economy. Science which derives all its propositions from one principle or one idea, is nothing more than a metaphysical system. A true science cannot have one point of outcome: it has as many of them as there are independent, intervening, phenomena that are not in direct and obvious connection between themselves” (de Roberti, 1869). The studies on historical time and social time, past, present and future assert the category of probability in the social sciences and humanities. The alternativeness of the historical process is determined in the process of awareness of the interaction of the past and the future in the present. Socio-historical time reveals originality, non-linearity of the trajectory of social development. Social events are constructed in the space-time system by representing alternatives to the historical process which allow an objective and comprehensive study of the social process of development.

Historical sociology examines the basis of social organization, studies transformation of the sociocultural form of society and the structure of social elements. Historical sociology makes it possible to study particular phenomena (Serno-Solovyevich, 1963). Social reality takes place in time and is characterized by duration. Social time is determined by historical processes, respectively, the interaction of social subjects forms the moral order. Society time consists of intervals and rhythms of alternation of social events and phenomena which are structured by a historical sociologist in accordance with his own concept. Historical sociology reveals ways, directions and mechanisms of public processes management.


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29 March 2019

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Ingovatov, V., Melyokhin, V., & Kolokoltsev, M. (2019). Historical And Sociological Knowledge As Method For Studying Globalized Social Changes. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2306-2312). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.03.02.266