There were/are different ways to describe history and what the most important forces are behind history.

some say "history is the result of great men", some "history can be only understood under the light of geopolitic interests", some underline the importance of the living circumstances of the common people and their needs, and so on.

What are those approaches, how can one systemize them and what is the modern oppinion on this matter?

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    Who says any of those? They sound more like "popular history" phrases than real history to me. – Semaphore Oct 27 '14 at 16:42
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    "Marxist History", "Whiggish History" (Aka the tea party), "Anti-Chauvenist History" (including ethnic history, women's history, red-headed gentleman's history, Left handed bald men with bad math skills History, etc. I'm not saying those are right or wrong, but they are analytical approaches to history. – MCW Oct 27 '14 at 16:49
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    I'm growing to believe that this question should be closed as trivial. wikipedia covers the topic. If the question can be revised to include preliminary research, I would support re-opening it. This is a fascinating question; but it needs to be edited to conform to How to Ask – MCW Oct 27 '14 at 17:07
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    what views among modern historians exist? – eugene_laserhair Oct 27 '14 at 17:09
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    @Rajib Forget new theorist, I don't think our existing theorists have even finished defining postmodernist historiography yet XD – Semaphore Oct 27 '14 at 17:40

Confining your perspective to just one approach is bound to yield highly subjective results. Modern history tries to implement scientific theory into its proceeding:

  1. Gathering evidence, establishing the factual basis, confronting source material (be it written, chemical, archeological...). Quantify what is quantifiable.
  2. Postulating a falsifiable hypothesis on a narrow question. History is very broad, but one can still narrow down questions (eg.is there a correlation between the fall in mean temperature and the diet of medieval European peasants? How do gold prices and Mansa Musas Hajj relate?).
  3. Single out possible sources of error, find new evidence, analyze single factors, confront with evidence from other fields.
  4. Collect hypotheses to form a theory. Submit for peer review. Publish. Wait to be disproven. Change theory or start again.

In the end, the modern history approach tries to avoid "What if's" and pompous statements like those you mentioned. That is stuff for novelists, philosophers and journalists who process the work provided by historians.

A completely different story, is what a certain historian specializes in. There might be one publishing only about a certain historical person, and another just concerning himself with the geopolitical workings of the Caribbean in the late 1950ies. No one (except school teachers) will tell you though, that by studying the life of William the Conqueror you have understood the entire history of 11th century England, there is just so much the lives of the so called "great persons" don't tell.

  • How does this answer the question of theoretical approach? I think this is about scientific process. And mind you, there does exist a wide dichotomy between the diggers (scientific) and the theoreticians. Even today. – Rajib Oct 28 '14 at 2:46

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