Document Type: Original Article
St Antony’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
Social history is the mother of the social sciences. Economic history and the history of political economy are useful and respectable academic pursuits in their own right, just as history itself is one of the most important fields of learning and scholarship in every civilized country. Not every economist, sociologist or political scientist has to be a historian, but their work is meaningful, realistic and relevant to the extent that it is conducted against the appropriate social background and reality, which history, its logic and its sociology can provide, on the condition that these too are constructed on a realistic and relevant plain. This does not mean that every economist must be an economic historian or a sociologist. It means that economic studies, whether theoretical or empirical, whether as an academic pursuit or as a policy prescription, must have in the background the history and social framework to which they refer. So, the rules of social and economic behavior, public and private economic decision making can be, and often are, very different from the assumptions of models which are based on theories of European society and economy, irrespective of the ideology or paradigm to which they refer.