Vastly increased research and a sounder technique in history in the nineteenth century had two influences on the social sciences. When an enthusiasm for the records of history was combined with the evolutionary perspective, it often resulted in the search for and the imposition of patterns of development on history in general or on the history of particular subject matters such as economics, politics, morals, or religion. Social scientists looked to history for explanations, in the hope of finding inevitable laws, stages of development, or the forces that moved human society. As historians worked out a critical method for their subject matter which more accurately and justly portrayed the complex record of past events, the social scientists were stimulated to adopt the same approach to their own subject matters. They turned to composing histories instead of creating sciences. To many, economics became the history of economic institutions; political science, the history of political institutions; anthropology, the history of civilizations, societies, and cultures. Psychology was relatively immune to this influence and turned toward an experimental method. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "1. Introduction. Pt. XXI: Meaning in the Social Sciences." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 1-4.