Explaining Social Processes

Book Info

  • Length: 224 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-501-9
  • Publish date: July 2008
  • List Price: $45.95
  • Your Price: $39.06


  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-500-2
  • Publish date: February 2008
  • List Price: $163.00
  • Your Price: $138.55


Built upon decades of experience at the frontiers of history and social science, Charles Tilly’s newest book offers innovative methods and approaches applicable in a wide range of disciplines: politics, sociology, anthropology, history, economics, and more.

The book covers approaches to analysis ranging from interpersonal exchanges to world-historical changes—economic, political, and social. He shows how a thoroughgoing relational account of social processes, coupled with the careful identification of causal mechanisms, illuminates variation and change in the ways people live at the small scale and the large.

Between an introduction and a conclusion, the three central sections—Concepts and Observations, Explanations and Comparisons, and Historical Analysis—move from adequate observations and descriptions to explanations (with special emphasis on systematic comparison as an aid to explanation), then to applications in historical treatments of social processes. Some of the chapters (for example “Iron City Blues,” which reflects on a book by S. N. Eisenstadt) present critiques of particular pieces of work. Others (for example, “Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists”) clear up conceptual and explanatory confusion in some current area of dispute. Most, however, address substantial methodological problems in something like the style of an advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate course on social analysis. The book as a whole sums up broad methodological conclusions from a lifetime of research at the frontiers of history and social science.

To view Power Point slides of the last undergraduate course of Charles Tilly (with Ernesto Castaneda) in Spring 2007, which are related to his Paradigm book with Sidney Tarrow, Contentious Politics, please click here.

  • Tilly’s long-awaited methodological treatise
  • Clearly written for students
  • Varied historical and contemporary case studies from around the globe

Author Info

Charles Tilly was Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, and author of fifty earlier books. Just before his death, he was honored with the Social Science Research Council's prestigious Albert O. Hirschman Prize. A founding friend of Paradigm, Tilly is author of several other Paradigm books including most recently, Explaining Social Processes.


PART I: Introduction
Chapter 1
: Method and Explanation

PART II: Concepts and Observations
Chapter 2
: Systems, Dispositions, and Transactions in Social Analysis
Chapter 3: Observations of Social Processes and Their Formal Representations
Chapter 4: Even Catalogs as Theories
Chapter 5: Iron City Blues
Chapter 6: Why Read the Classics?

PART III: Explanations and Comparisons
Chapter 7
: To Explain Political Processes
Chapter 8: Means and Ends of Comparison in Macrosociology
Chapter 9: Terror, Terrorism, and Terrorists
Chapter 10: Linkers, Diggers, and Glossers in Social Analysis

PART IV: Historical Social Analysis
Chapter 11
: History and Sociological Imagining
Chapter 12: Historical Analysis of Political Processes
Chapter 13: What Good Is Urban History?
Chapter 14: Anglo-American Social History Since 1945
Chapter 15: Three Visions of History and Theory

PART V: Conclusion
Chapter 16
: Epilogue

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