At the heart of any discussion of the development of social history as a discreet field of enquiry must be an appreciation of the intersection of two disciplines: history and sociology. The marriage of the two has not always been easy and is of relatively recent vintage. No one today would question the mutual benefits of history and sociology operating in concert: but it was not always the case. The early rumours of a dalliance between the subjects gained credibility in the immediate post-war years. Richard Hofstadter, writing in 1956, emphasised the potential of such a union, even if he did not name the disciplines directly:
The next generation may see the development of a somewhat new historical genre, which will be a mixture of traditional history and the social sciences. It will differ from the narrative history of the past in that its primary purpose will be analytical … It will be informed by the insights of the social sciences and at some points will make use of methods they have originated.