The art of, or employment of, writing history. To study historiography is to study the methodological (including epistemological) questions raised by the writing of historical accounts.
In an article published in the Polish Sociological Bulletin in 1981 (‘Narcissism or Reflexivity in Modern Sociology’), and Howard Newby argued that sociology in the 1970s had been damaged by an obsession with epistemological matters, evident in the growth of a specialized sociology of sociology. A quite proper concern for reflexivity had degenerated into narcissism, and had threatened a degree of angst and a paralysis which seriously undermined empirical research into issues of social and sociological concern. By contrast, historians (even Marxist historians) had long avoided the dangers of the epistemological anomie that beset sociology (despite facing even more severe problems of reliability and validity ), by the simple expedient of dealing with issues of historical methodology under a separate heading from that of ‘doing history’; that is, historiography. As they put it, ‘since epistemology cannot be allowed to dominate the practice of history to the exclusion of all other considerations without leading to historical enquiry grinding to a halt, it has had to be separately institutionalized. As a result historians have invented historiography, within which issues pertaining to the philosophy of history may be discussed without calling a halt to the ongoing activity of historical research’.
However (as Bell and Newby themselves recognize), it is doubtful if sociologists would accept a similar division of labour, on the grounds that it tends to suggest that theory and data can be regarded as somehow entirely separate entities. See also epistemology ; methodological pluralism ; methodology.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • historiography — noun Date: 1569 1. a. the writing of history; especially the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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