Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-17, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 3 March, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2017.


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core definition

Historicalism is a view that history is an interpretive process in which the past and present mediate one another.

explanatory context

This means that understanding of the past requires both seeing the past from the point of view of the actors at the time but setting the information in the wider socio-historical context. This shuttling between views also requires critical engagement with sources and an attempt to deconstruct ideological preconceptions about the past.


The term historicalism has dropped out of vogue but the approach is very similar to what is more often referred to as critical historicism or in some cases radical or critical hermeneutics.

analytical review

associated issues


related areas

See also

critical hermeneutics

critical historicism




copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017

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