History and Theory 50 (3):341-357 (2011)

Abstract
ABSTRACTHow do micro cases lead us to surprising macro claims? Historians often say that the micro level casts light on the macro level. This metaphor of “casting light” suggests that the micro does not illuminate the macro straightforwardly; such light needs to be interpreted. In this essay, I propose and clarify six interpretive norms to guide micro‐to‐macro inferences.I focus on marginal groups and monsters. These are popular cases in social and cultural histories, and yet seem to be unpromising candidates for generalization. Marginal groups are dismissed by the majority as inferior or ill‐fitting; their lives seem intelligible but negligible. Monsters, on the other hand, are somehow incomprehensible to society and treated as such. First, I show that, by looking at how a society identifies a marginal group and interacts with it, we can draw surprising inferences about that society's self‐image and situation. By making sense of a monster's life, we can draw inferences about its society's mentality and intelligibility. These will contest our conception of a macro claim. Second, I identify four risks in making such inferences — and clarify how norms of coherence, challenge, restraint, connection, provocation, and contextualization can manage those risks.My strategy is to analyze two case studies, by Richard Cobb, about a band of violent bandits and a semi‐literate provincial terrorist in revolutionary France. Published in 1972, these studies show Cobb to be an inventive and idiosyncratic historian, who created new angles for studying the micro level and complicated them with his autobiography. They illustrate how a historian's autobiographical, literary, and historiographical interests can mix into a risky, and often rewarding, style.
Keywords norms  context  microhistory  interpretation  historiography  autobiography  marginal  monster  macro
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/hith.2011.50.issue-3
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Micro-Macro-Problem in Constructivism.A. Scholl - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 12 (1):47-48.
From Circular Reasoning to Micro-Macro Reasoning in the Classroom?A. Hjorth - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 12 (1):11-12.
Micro-Level Indeterminism and Macro-Level Determinism.Marcelo Sabatés - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2001:11-18.
Micro, Macro, and Mechanisms.Petri Ylikoski - 2012 - In Harold Kincaid (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 21.
Beyond Agency.Stephan Fuchs - 2001 - Sociological Theory 19 (1):24-40.
Business Ethics: Micro and Macro. [REVIEW]James Brummer - 1985 - Journal of Business Ethics 4 (2):81 - 91.
Formen der'Zerlegbarkeit'sozialer Phänomene.Andreas Balog - 1993 - Analyse & Kritik 15 (2):168-191.
Behind CSR: Mutual Perceptions in Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue.Daniel Arenas, Josep M. Lozano & Laura Albareda - 2007 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 18:419-424.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-11-22

Total views
360 ( #28,476 of 2,507,664 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
29 ( #31,004 of 2,507,664 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes