Historical and Comparative Research
Historical and comparative research encompasses a variety of methods and uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis. It is grounded in the belief that focusing attention beyond recent events in a single country can yield valuable insights about social organization, social processes, and social change. Historical and comparative researchers typically draw on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources for their data: historical documents, official government sources (including census data), organizational records, media reports (such as newspaper articles), oral histories, websites, and many others. Barbara Perry traces the evolution of the hate movement in the United States over the last several decades, with the idea that understanding changes in its messages over time helps us better understand the current strategies that hate groups use to promote their interests. A significant challenge, and one that faces most historical sociologists, was assembling and organizing enough information to be able to analyze the groups’ metamorphoses.