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Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences$
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Gurpreet Mahajan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198076971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198076971.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 December 2021

The Narrative Mode

The Narrative Mode

(p.74) IV The Narrative Mode
Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences

Gurpreet Mahajan

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the narrative mode of inquiry. Advocates of the narrative mode argue that history is the most ‘individualizing and particularizing’ of all social sciences. While other disciplines such as sociology, economics, and politics search for generalizations, history concentrates on the unique and the particular. It does not strive to explain why empires decline or candidates win elections; it tells us why the Roman empire declined and why candidate A won the parliamentary elections in 1989 from constituency C. A historical narrative is neither an account of an object from its genesis nor a simple serialization and description of events one after another. It is essentially a form of explanation in which the explanandum (the event to be explained) follows from and appears as a consequence of the actions of individuals and groups placed in a particular historical situation.

Keywords:   narrative mode, history, social sciences, historical narrative, explanation, explanandum

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