Historical Social Research

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Konrad H. Jarausch, Promises and Problems of Quantitative Research in Central European History [1978] [Abstract]

In spite of a grand tradition of statistical analysis in the last decades of the 19th century, quantitative methods spread more slowly among German historians than among their French or British colleagues who were interested in the structural approach of the Annales or in family demography. This essay describes the organizational efforts of QUANTUM in Germany and of the quantitative methods committee of the Conference Group for German History in the United States. Moreover, it contrasts the results of a German and American survey of the use of these methods, noting considerable differences between the two contexts in subject matter and interpretation. The article aimed at convincing reluctant scholars to make use of quantification and to progress to more sophisticated statistical analyses wherever interpretative questions demand it. The piece is therefore a document of the initial enthusiasm for the potential of a new research method.