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The Force of Comparison
A New Perspective on Modern European History and the Contemporary World
354 pages, 14 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-335-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78920-336-3 eBook
“The chapters in this volume are all outstanding examples of the power of comparative history and thus underline the claim made in the introduction that comparative history will enrich our understanding of the past in years to come…Overall the volume is a treasure trove for anyone interested in comparative history and a compelling call to pursue comparative investigations in historical writing.” • German History
“By studying practices of comparison both in historical reality and in the study of history, this book offers fresh and surprising insights into a much-discussed subject. The contributions are empirically rich, well-documented, and of great interest for many areas in history and other fields.” • Jürgen Kocka, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
“This is an excellent collection of essays. Its scholarship is of a high standard, it demonstrates a degree of conceptual unity that is unusual for edited volumes, and it does a splendid job of vindicating the argument for the ubiquitous importance of comparison in modern life and thought.” • Luke O’Sullivan, National University of Singapore
In an era defined by daily polls, institutional rankings, and other forms of social quantification, it can be easy to forget that comparison has a long historical lineage. Presenting a range of multidisciplinary perspectives, this volume investigates the concepts and practices of comparison from the early modern period to the present. Each chapter demonstrates how comparison has helped to drive the seemingly irresistible dynamism of the modern world, exploring how comparatively minded assessors determine their units of analysis, the criteria they select or ignore, and just who it is that makes use of these comparisons—and to what ends.
Willibald Steinmetz is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Bielefeld University. He has published widely on the history of concepts and political communication and is co-editor of the book series European Conceptual History with Berghahn Books.