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Historiography and methodology Research Skills in History.

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Presentation on theme: "Historiography and methodology Research Skills in History."— Presentation transcript:

1 Historiography and methodology Research Skills in History

2 Definitions Methodology Historiography A system of methods, principles and rules for guiding a particular discipline The writing of history; the principles and methods for writing history

3 The historian’s task Facts. But what links them? 10 May 1940 Germany invades France and Belgium 16 June 1940: 8 million French refugees on the roads 10 July 1940: Third Republic resigns: Pétain as Head of State 16-17 July 1942: 13,152 French Jews rounded up at Vel d’Hiv in Paris

4 Why do interpretations differ? 1.Time of writing 2.Political perspective 3.Purpose of writing 4.Historian’s identity: age, ethnicity, gender 5.Methodological framework Sources used (each with its own character) Case studies Theories employed

5 Controversies of interpretation Which of the previous criteria cause controversies here: French Revolution (1789), English Revolution (1640-1660?) The Holocaust: structuralism vs intentionalism British women & the vote in 1918/World War I The impact of the Black Death Others?

6 Methodology: rules for sources Archival sources: what kinds of material? How must you treat it? Newspapers: what can they tell us? What are their limitations? Quantitative sources: what kinds of material? How must you treat them? What strengths and limitations? Qualitative sources: what problems emerge? Letters Diaries Autobiographies Oral history

7 What can historiography do for you? Develop your argument Give you ideas to pursue Show you where the important points are Teach you not to take ‘facts in books’ at face value Provide structural points, e.g. gender focus, class focus Demonstrate the novelty of your ideas

8 How to use historiography Name dropping historians is not enough! Historiography is not a ‘proof’ that you’ve read a required number of books; it’s a tool and an indication of understanding You must use their differing interpretations to support or counter your thesis Your work should fit into what others are doing – or fill a gap A strong paragraph near the beginning of a short essay, with ideas followed through the argument A large section of a dissertation – maybe 2000 words!

9 In 1966, Jackson and Marsden conducted a qualitative study of working-class grammar school leavers, detailing the problems faced by working-class children and their families. They exposed the “colossal waste of talent in working-class children” which the 1944 Education Act had failed to eliminate. (1) They, alongside others, explored the reasons why equal opportunities remained elusive. These studies illustrated the contribution of home environment to working-class under-achievement. For Dale and Griffith, because working-class homes lacked cultural goods (like books), “the child from the upper and middle social classes has a flying start over his working-class rivals in richness of vocabulary and in general knowledge.” (2) Douglas identified the detrimental effect neighbourhood: working-class children...will often live in poor neighbourhoods where there is little interest in learning, so that both they and their parents may be discouraged by the apathy and disinterest around them. (3) Jackson and Marsden found that working-class parents lacked the confidence and ability to intervene in their child’s education, highlighting the difference: the middle-class families had an educational inheritance with which to endow their children...In half of these instances there was a shrewd and trusting understanding between school and family, supporting the child. But when things went ‘wrong’, the family was able to interfere and maintain the child even against the school’s opinion. (4) So working-class children missed out because of their parents’ lack of experience. This study explores these issues with reference to working-class girls in particular, as the work of Dale and Griffith, Douglas and others refer only to boys, and Jackson and Marsden pay little attention to the specific experience of girls. (5) (1) B.Jackson and D.Marsden, Education and the Working-Class (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966), p.16. (2) R.R.Dale and S. Griffith, Down Stream: Failures in the Grammar School (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), p.57. (3) Douglas, op.cit., pp.35-6. (4) Jackson and Marsden, op.cit.,pp.56-57 (5) For example, J.E. Floud, A.H. Halsey, and F.M. Martin, Social Class and Educational Opportunity (London, Heinemann, 1956).

10 Girls are hardly visible in the existing literature on grammar schools. Contemporary studies examined class equality not gender equality. Girls rarely feature in these studies, and if they do, are seen to be faced with the same problems as boys. Other studies examining social mobility through grammar school education concentrate on boys, partly because it appears “easier” to measure boys’ social mobility through occupation. In feminist debates on gender reproduction in school, class retained its importance as the slant was largely Marxist. Therefore the focus was on girls at secondary moderns or comprehensives, where the working-class were best represented. However, this type of analysis falls into Newsom’s trap of ignoring the “extremely limited section” of the female population, “the intellectually able”, which is, of course, not limited at all. Intellectually able girls are rendered invisible, and particularly intellectually able working-class girls. Working-class girls seem to be lumped together into secondary moderns or comprehensives, and stereotyped into the less-able role, all holding the same ambitions, abilities and reactions. Sue Sharpe makes this generalisation: The ambitions of many working class girls are more immediate and practical...They almost certainly hope to be wives and mothers at quite a young age, and look forward to working predominantly in offices, shops and factories. (1) Despite her cautious “many” and “almost certainly”, the image created is of homogenous ambition, with no alternatives. A minority of working-class children went to grammar-schools, but it was a substantial minority, whose experiences should be fully recorded. If girls are ignored, we are left with an image of working-class girls as lacking intelligence, lacking ambition outside domesticity and lacking in certain types of achievement. To be defined as “lacking” against a middle-class, masculine norm is one of the structures by which women and/or the working-class become defined as The Other, an inferior and subordinate Other. (1) Sharpe, op.cit., p.125.

11 What can methodology do for you? Enable you to approach sources critically Enable you to approach sources sophisticatedly Bring in theoretical dimensions

12 How to use methodology Know what’s special about your primary sources: are you using diaries, letters, autobiographical sources, photographs, films? Are you using newspapers? Specialist sources could need a paragraph or section to deal with methodology If so, look at methodological secondary sources that deal with this particular form, e.g. Lejeune, On DiaryOn Diary Dobson and Ziemann, Reading Primary SourcesReading Primary Sources Barber and Peniston-Bird, History Beyond the Text John Tosh, The Pursuit of History Know what theories are relevant, and that you could counter or use Marxist interpretations Feminist ideas, women’s history, gender history Feminist ideas Etc

13 E.g. sources Life stories are not simply an alternative source or a means to gain data on undocumented phenomena, although that is one use. Their potential within socio-historical investigation is far greater, as they inform and shape investigations in a completely different way to traditional positivist techniques. The use of life stories shapes the epistemological base of the study. When considering how knowledge is acquired, the epistemological assumption of the life story approach is that the everyday theorising which people do about their own lives is valuable. Bertaux and Thompson “see their interpretations as vital first steps to our own” (1). Analysis develops based on details emerging from stories, and not according to apriori assumptions. Epistemologically, the life story approach also affects ideas about what it is possible to know, permitting the elucidation of shifting human identities, changing over time. Unlike positivism, it assumes that “[t]here is no objective reality which can be apprehended from the outside” by an “objective” researcher (2). Life documents communicate individuals’ situatedness; participants are revealed as intimately connected with people, places and things in a way that survey research does not. Most importantly they expose individuals as agents with a capacity to influence their own destinies, showing that “[t]he protagonist is not merely a pawn buffeted by the setting, but an actor who alters the scene” (3). (1) D.Bertaux and P.Thompson (eds), Pathways to Social Class (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997), p.12. (2) D.Jerrome,“The Family in Time and Space. Personal Conceptions of Kinship”, Mass-Observation Archive Occasional Paper No.6, University of Sussex Library, 1996, p.17. (3) D.Polkinghorne, “Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis”, in J.A.Hatch and R.Wisniewski, Life History and Narrative (London, The Falmer Press, 1995), p.17.

14 E.g. theory The theory of cultural capital illustrates a role played by the education system in the perpetuation of the class system, reproducing the structure of the distribution of cultural capital. Additionally, Althusser sees the school as the dominant ideological state apparatus in modern capitalism, which reinforces capitalist ideology by educating children to accept existing power relations. He sees education as a process of selective socialization where groups of children, on the basis of class origins, are given different types and amounts of education through which they acquire different types of knowledge and know-how as well as particular ideological predispositions. In this context, the post-war tripartite system reproduces the class structure by consigning children to different schools and consequently to positions within that structure, largely based on social origin. Bowles and Gintis write that the education system “reproduces and legitimates a pre-existing pattern [of power relations] in the process of training and stratifying the workforce”. Workers emerge at the end of their schooling already prepared to enter the socio-economic division of labour at a certain level. Campbell remarked in 1956 that - one of the main purposes of a grammar school education is to train pupils for a particular social status in life...developing a social and educational élite Subjects such as Latin and algebra are part of the liberal “gentleman’s education”, designed for children with the “leisure to pursue a non-instrumental course of study”. (4) (1) L.Althusser, “Ideology and ideological state apparatuses” in Lenin and Philosophy and other essays (London, New Left Books, 1971), p.148, quoted in M.MacDonald, “Socio-cultural reproduction and women’s education”, in R.Deem, (ed.), Schooling for Women’s Work (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), p.18. (2) S.Bowles and H.Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976), p.265 in L.Barton, R.Meighan, and S.Walker (eds), Schooling, Ideology and the Curriculum (Lewes, The Falmer Press, 1980), introduction, p.5. (3) F.Campbell, Eleven-plus and all that. The grammar school in a changing society (London, C.A Watts, 1956), p.129. (4) P.Summerfield, “Cultural Reproduction in the Education of Girls: a Study of Girls’ Secondary Schooling in Two Lancashire Towns, 1900-1950” in F. Hunt, (ed.), op.cit, p.153.

15 Where to find historiography? Reviews,.e.g http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/stable/2124597 http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/stable/2124597 Articles, e.g collaborationism hoffman.pdfcollaborationism hoffman.pdf Introductions, e.g. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YZC6JoDkZCEC&printsec=fro ntcover&dq=paul+preston&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2wnwUJr8MNKq0AX E0ICIAg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YZC6JoDkZCEC&printsec=fro ntcover&dq=paul+preston&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2wnwUJr8MNKq0AX E0ICIAg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA Specific books, e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Nazi-Dictatorship-Problems- Perspectives-Interpretation/dp/0340760281 http://www.amazon.com/Nazi-Dictatorship-Problems- Perspectives-Interpretation/dp/0340760281

16 Where to find methodology? Edited collections, e.g. The Oral History Reader, Understanding Quantitative History Introductions to books employing particular methodologies, e.g. Writing Marxist history: British society, economy, & culture since 1700, Becoming a Woman: And Other Essays in 19th and 20th Century Feminist History Specialist journals, e.g. Oral History, Oral History Review, Biography, Auto/biography, Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History

17 Conclusion Historiography and methodology both concern the interpretation of facts Historiography and methodology concern how primary documents/sources are treated Your dissertation will have to deal with both Historiography will be treated in a ‘literature review’ probably at the beginning of your essay Methodology must be explored using expert secondary sources, not just guesswork or speculation.


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