Chapter 5 explained that Marx’s analysis of industrial capitalism was part of a larger inquiry into the evolution of human society from the most distant times to the modern era. Marx emphasized the increased power of the species over the natural world and the globalization of social and economic relations. By analysing the impact of large-scale structural change on collective action and everyday life, Marx pioneered historical sociology which has been defined as that ‘tradition of research devoted to understanding the character and effects of large-scale structures and fundamental processes of change’ (Kelly 2003; Skocpol, quoted in Hobden 1998: 3). Several overviews of historical sociology have maintained that studies of long-term changes in social and political structures also investigate their relationship with such features of everyday existence as emotional attitudes to violence and suffering (Abrams 1982: chapter 1; Skocpol 1984: chapter 1; Smith 1990: 3). Its breadth and scope distinguishes historical sociology from approaches that focus on short-term intervals and contemporary events. It also marks it off from historical writings that cast light on the distinctive or exceptional character of particular eras, episodes or events, but do not reflect on how they were connected with longer-term social directions.
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