Does History Repeat?

Goodin, Robert E. and Charles Tilly, Oxford Handbook of Contextual Politics, Oxford University Press, 2006, Pp. 472-89

9 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2016

See all articles by Ruth Berins Collier

Ruth Berins Collier

University of California, Berkeley

Sebastián Mazzuca

Johns Hopkins University

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

History is typically seen as non-repeating; yet repetition is often considered necessary for making general, explanatory statements in the social sciences. How, then, can political science explain outcomes in a way that does not contradict their fundamentally historical character? This dilemma is a key focus of debate in methodological discussions. After distinguishing among three types of repetition -- replication, recurrence, reproduction -- we show that the dilemma is a false one. First, history can usefully be seen as repeating, and even the most radical critics accept some forms of repetition. Second, explanation does not require repetition. We show how political phenomena can be seen as repeating, both in terms of description of cases of the same thing and in terms of common causal patterns. We then review a set of analytic approaches to examine their treatment of repetition as a requisite for assessing cause patterns.

Keywords: political science, history, methodology, historical context

Suggested Citation

Collier, Ruth Berins and Mazzuca, Sebastián, Does History Repeat? (2006). Goodin, Robert E. and Charles Tilly, Oxford Handbook of Contextual Politics, Oxford University Press, 2006, Pp. 472-89, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757855

Ruth Berins Collier (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Sebastián Mazzuca

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

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