The Future of Class in History

What's Left of the Social?
Geoff Eley and Keith Nield
In the struggle between "social" and "cultural" thinking, the refusal to choose sides can be a radical and vital move


Unifying concepts are essential when studying history. They provide students and scholars with ways to organize their thoughts, research, and writings. However, these concepts are also the focus of myriad conflicts within the field. Social history has experienced more than its share of such conflicts since its inception some forty years ago. In recent times the fields of "the social" and of "culture" have sometimes been presented as mutually exclusive and even hostile. Once again, conceptual innovation in history has been cast as a closure by which the new drives out the old: in this case, cultural history radically displacing social history. The Future of Class in History analyzes the effect of the conflict that followed the "turn to culture" in historical work by examining the use of class and demonstrates how practitioners in multiple fields can collaborate to produce the highest quality scholarship.

Geoff Eley is Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

Keith Nield is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Hull.

Praise / Awards

  • "Brilliantly charts social history's past achievement, present dilemma, and future promise in a work distinguished by intellectual openness and generosity."
    —James A. Epstein, Vanderbilt University

  • "Much more than a book about the problematic of class, this timely meditation upon the history and politics of the move from social to cultural history will provoke and inspire debate. It is essential reading for all those interested in putting the social back into the analytical frame."
    —James Vernon, University of California at Berkeley

  • "The Future of Class in History provides a valuable critical overview of the major debates that have been polarizing the field of History over the last several decades. And it offers important ways of moving beyond those polarities, with new ways of thinking about "class" and "society" in a world in which such categories have been radically called into question."
    —Sherry Ortner, UCLA

  • "Eley and Neild tackle a contentious debate with a gracious plea for collaboration. Their strong desire to get past the 'culture wars' and to engage social and cultural historians in fruitful dialogue is a welcome move, stylishly executed."
    —Philippa Levine, University of Southern California

  • "Eley and Nield seek to rescue the deluded follower of social history from the enormous condescension of the cultural turn. They succeed admirably, making the case for a new hybrid socio-cultural history."
    —Donald Reid, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Look Inside

Copyright © 2007, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 280pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2007
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06964-4

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.