@article{Kocka2003, author="Jurgen Kocka", title="Losses, Gains and Opportunities: Social History Today", year="2003", journal="Journal of Social History", volume="37-1", number="Fall", pages="21-28", annote="

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

The author seeks to evaluate the present of the social history in function of the losses and gains that this sub-discipline has confronted and to emphasize its present and future opportunities.

First, there were not only losses, but gains as well. Depending on the criteria used, the latter may be seen as more important as the former. Second, a new turn seems to be imminent which may lead to a renaissance of social history though in a deeply structured form.


The decline of social-scientific history-Social history have offered a lot of opportunities for the application of analytical methods , some of its areas of inquiry provided the possibility of collecting mass data for being analyzed by statistical methods; but Social-scientific history is only a small part of Social history and it has been relegated . Even though Quantitative Methods can’t replace or fulfill the functions of interpretative methods, historians most reevaluate their importance and utility to certain kind of questions.

The lost of the Economy

Traditionally social history was closed tied to economic history, but over the last two decades it has gained independence and moved closer to cultural history. Many social historians have lost interest in relating their topics to broad economic structures and processes, to the modes of production and distribution, to the basic needs of people and the constraints set by scarcity.

Lost or gain?

Paradigm Change

Historians have become less interested in establishing the causes and conditions, and more interested in (re)constructing the meanings of the past phenomena. Some may deplore this shift, and, indeed, question whether it is possible at all to reconstruct the historical meaning of the past without trying to explain it. Others may welcome the shift from explanation to understanding, from causes to meanings, as a step towards more freedom in dealing with the past.


Internal Expansion- Women’s and gender history, the new stress on perceptions, experiences and actions as dimensions of historical reconstruction, the rise of different variants of cultural history, the ‘linguistic turn’ etc.

External Expansion- interconnections of social history with political, economic and cultural history.


Moving to new and more comprehensive levels of analysis, like the trans-national, it’s an exiting possibility. Comparison, “Connected Histories”, “entangled histories”, histoire croiseee are programmatic metaphors of approaches which try to be transnational. They intend to reconstruct interrelations, mutual influences, interconnections and border-crossings. Networks and relations become objects of study, instead of social entities like specific societies or groups within specific societies.

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism


Conclusions or Final Remarks

The overall evaluation could be asserted as positive. The recent experiences of internationalization and the increasing quest for trans-national approaches in historical thought, research and writing have started to confront social historians with challenges and opportunities; it will be interesting to see how they can cope with such new challenges and opportunities.

", keyword0="Germany", keyword1="Transnational Approaches", type="journal" }