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Methods and Approaches: the Origins and Evolution of the Key Concepts of the Contemporary Historical Discourse

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Abstract. Relying on the analysis of various historians’ texts, from the late 19th to the early 21st century, the paper traces the origins and the further evolution of methods and approaches as key concepts related to the instruments of historical research. As this survey demonstrates, the concept of approach entered the historical discourse only in the last third of the 20th century, simultaneously with the rise of various trends in historical writing. This phenomenon, as well as the previous substitution of the only historical method with the idea of methodological pluralism, might have been related to an increasing fragmentation of historical field and splitting of the discipline into many specialized areas. The paper concludes with stressing the basic differences between methods and approaches as tools of historical research: the former are just sets of particular techniques, impersonal, stable over time and free of any ideology, while the latter, on the contrary, are sets of ideas and values, bearing imprints of their inventors’ personalities, ideologically loaded and susceptible to academic fashion.

Keywords: methods, approaches, trends in historical research, historical discourse, fragmentation of historical field.

For citation: Krom M.M. Methods and Approaches: the Origins and Evolution of the Key Concepts of the Contemporary Historical Discourse, in Novoe Proshloe / The New Past. 2021. No. 4. Pp. 92–108. DOI 10.18522/2500‑3224‑2021‑4-92-108.

The article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).    

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