Selected Fields

Past - Social History - New Directions

pastSocial history began as a move away from the study of prominent individuals, polities and elites, towards the recovery of other groups and social structures.

Historians have long mapped and recovered social formations—such as class and gender-- and the experiences and lives of various social groups. The history of societies, however, has undergone significant changes since the rise of social history in the 1960s and 1970s, as social historians have sought to transform history into a science: applying the approaches of the social sciences, and focusing on such formations and structures as capital and labor,  on such processes as modernization, urbanization, industrialization, and family formation, and on social movements.

Gradually, these histories have become more plural and varied, with a broadened interest in marginalized groups and exploring the histories of women, and later gender, the family, children, youth and old age, the urban poor and criminal and the rural poor, and examining the inter-relations between societies and states—from democratic welfare states to and dictatorships and other authoritative states.

Throughout these shifts in research agendas and methodologies, and the evolution from social history to the multiple researches that make up today’s pluralized “New Social History”, the work of social historians has been characterized by a commitment to the study of social marginalization and exclusion; and of social inequalities across time and place, in the labor force, in gender, in families, ages and race.

The 2016 Dan David Prize in the Past Time Dimension will be awarded to an outstanding individual or organization whose ongoing, groundbreaking research is making a significant contribution to the field of Social History.