Pattern and Repertoire in History


  • Pages: 418
  • Format: PDF
  • Published Date: 2002


Pattern and Repertoire in History is to analyze clusters of similar “elementary” occurrences that serve as the building blocks of more global events. Their book identifies the recurring patterns of behavior that shape the histories of different countries separated by vast stretches of time and space.


Recent research has mostly concentrated on what can be called macrosociology or macrohistory. One notable exception is the work of Tilly, who has extensively explored popular disturbances; in a similar way this book is mainly concerned with microhistorical events.

Our primary objective is to show that the concepts of historical pattern and repertoire introduced by Tilly have a fairly large scope of application. We show that by breaking up complex historical phenomena into simpler “modules,” it becomes possible to study the latter from the point of view of sociology.

In this way, historical sociology can aspire to bridging the long-standing gap between history and sociology. Sometimes, especially when we want to refer to the decomposition of a historical episode into simpler components, we use the expression “analytical history”; the field of analytical history should be seen as a branch, a ramification, of historical sociology.

Pattern and Repertoire in History focuses on a few, but fairly different, historical phenomena. They range from the French Revolution to the Pacific War. Clearly a separate book could be written on each of these events. But in focusing on one specific topic we would miss our main objective; we do not want to write yet another book about the French Revolution or the Pacific War, but to show that both phenomena can be studied (and better understood) using the methods of analytical history.

In other words, we would like to convince the reader that the approach we propose has a wide applicability. The first chapter explains the methodology, then in the subsequent chapters a number of case studies show how it can be implemented. “A tree is judged by its fruits” goes the popular saying; similarly we wish this book to be judged on the basis of the new connections that it suggests, on the unexpected regularities that it discloses, and on the basic historical mechanisms that it highlights.


  • Analytical History: Where History and Sociology Meet
  • European Variants of the French Revolution
  • Building Blocks of the French Revolution
  • The American Revolution
  • General Strikes, Mushroom Strikes
  • Wars for Territorial Expansion
  • The Constraints of Logistics
  • Historical Forecasting
  • Perspectives