Does History Repeat?

Ruth Berins Collier and Sebastián Mazzuca

in The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780199270439
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Does History Repeat?

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  • Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Institutions



This article examines the repetition in history in relation to contextual political analysis. It attempts to determine how political science can explain outcomes in a way that does not contradict their fundamentally historical character given that repetition is often considered necessary for making general, explanatory statements in the social sciences. The article explains that history can usefully be seen as repeating and argues that even the most radical critics accept some forms of repetition, and these forms are not logically different from those they reject. It suggests that explanation does not require repetition because explanatory approaches that are usually seen as requiring repetition are those based on correlational arguments. It also considers how political phenomena can be seen as repeating, both in terms of description as cases of the same thing and in terms of common causal patterns.

Keywords: repetition in history; contextual political analysis; social science; political science; explanatory approaches; political phenomena; causal patterns

Article.  7407 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions

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