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Historicism

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Historicism is the view that privileges time over space in social analysis. Some aspects of this view may be traced to the Christian eschatology of the medieval era and its linearization of historical time; however, in many respects, this notion—still implicit in much of social theory—had its origins in the 19th century. As the technological triumphs of the steamship and railroad relegated space to the background through massive timespace compression, the social sciences accordingly came to emphasize historicist approaches in which time was synonymous with growth, progress, change, and novelty. Historicism consists of a despatialized consciousness in which geography figures weakly or not at all, or, as Soja (1993) defines it, as “an overdeveloped historical contextualization of social life and social theory that actively submerges ...

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