Sample Essay

Words 1,430

Social History, which describes historical events within the framework of the lives and struggles of ordinary people, is a useful tool for shedding light on how the superior social classes of people exert their control over the inferior social classes but the rising trend in social history has been to select outstanding individual among the lower social orders whose lives are in no way representative of their social class and to make and almost hagiographic account of their lives. This trend is extremely dangerous as far as the study of History is concerned.

A proper understanding of the history of any event can only occur through understanding of the power relationships between different social classes and their conflicts. Selective readings of the lives of rebellious individuals of the lower social classes, gives students of history a wrong sense of how progressive change occurred in the political structure of the nation and through what processes some of the oppressed classes were guaranteed some of their rights. This in turn may have negative consequences for the struggle to guarantee the rights of other oppressed classes.

The Creation of a False Portrait of History and Fake Lineages

Social History arose out of a reaction against conventional forms of history which presented history as entirely the result of upper class beliefs and motivations, heroic leaderships and court intrigues etc. From the very outset the field of Social History has had an agenda to it[1]. Social History has often been used by the advocates of new progressive causes to create a false ancient lineage for themselves. The need for the false lineage creation perhaps arises from the fact that people often conflate the antiquity of an idea and its correctness[2]. In some cases the absence of previous existence of an idea is a potential cause of great concern and embarrassment for the proponents of the idea. An example of this is the Protestant reformation, the advocates for which were often asked that if truth did not lie in the teachings of the Catholic Church, where else did it exist, then before the emergence of Protestantism? They questioned whether it was really possible that the correct interpretation of Biblical teachings only occurred after 1500 years[3]. In response to this question, Protestant leaders of the past constructed several different pseudo-lineages for their beliefs, some tried to attribute their beliefs to the Gnostic Cathars of the past and others with the Waldensians[4].


[1] Fox-Genovese, E., and E. D. Genovese. “The Political Crisis of Social History: A Marxian Perspective.” Journal of Social History, Winter 1976: 205-220.

[2] Ward, P. A dictionary of common fallacies. Cambridge, UK: Oleander Press, 1978.

[3] Wright, J. A very broad church. August 09, 2007. (accessed April 21, 2010).

[4] Barnett, S. J. “Where Was Your Church before Luther? Claims for the Antiquity of Protestantism Examined.” Church History 68, no. 1 (March 1999): 14-41.

Kindly order term papers, essays, research papers, dissertations, thesis, book reports from the order page.



Related Pages

Tags: ,