Historic context

What is a historical context?

The historical context is the set of circumstances in history in which an event occurs, so that they exert some kind of influence on it. It is also known as a historical framework or historical referential framework.

All human things occur within a historical context, whether we speak of revolutions, discoveries, inventions, artistic works, movements, theories, laws and even our own lives.

The function of the historical context is to provide information on the material, social and cultural aspects of history that influence an event, phenomenon or subject, in order to facilitate their understanding. Sometimes the phenomena we study also influence the historical context, which deserves to be noted.

The importance of the historical context lies in the fact that it prevents prejudices, simplifications and errors of interpretation when judging the facts of the past. Likewise, it helps the researcher to weigh the importance of the phenomenon studied in its proper measure.

From the methodological point of view, the historical context is part of the structure of research work in social and human sciences. This is one of the first stages of the investigation.

Types of historical context

In some works, it is necessary to emphasize specific aspects of the historical context. In these cases, there may be different types or approaches. The most common are:

  • Historical-political context: focuses attention on political systems and the tensions of power.
  • Historical-economic context: describes the economic system, the distribution of wealth, business actors, etc.
  • Historical-social context or socio-historical context: emphasizes social aspects of the period, such as social structure, social classes and the relationship between them, the role of men and women, the division of labor, etc.
  • Historical-cultural context: it focuses on the ideas, concepts, ideologies, aesthetic values, religious thought, philosophical thought, customs, cultural assets and mentalities of the time.

In addition to these indicated types, one can also speak of a historical, religious, artistic, sports, scientific, etc. context. Everything will depend on the interests of the researcher in relation to his object of study.

How do you make a historical context?

There are different ways to develop a historical context. Even so, any historical context must include the following aspects: delimitation of space and time, description of the pertinent aspects and events, identification of the sources used and organization of the final structure.

1. Delimit the space-time context. The spatial-temporal delimitation consists of specifying the place and the period of time (the time) where the object of study is inserted.

2. Describe and analyze the pertinent historical aspects. The researcher must determine which are the pertinent aspects to contextualize the object of study, such as political-economic systems, social order, religion, ideas, values, events, discoveries, inventions, traditions and customs, among others.

It is very important to describe the relationship that is established between the aspects described and the object of study. This means making clear how they influenced each other and vice versa.

3. Identify the type of information sources. At the time of writing, the researcher must specify the origin of their sources, that is, if they will use primary and / or secondary sources.

You must also identify whether it is laws, minutes, press articles, speeches, literary works, academic books, audiovisual materials, images, objects, etc. Whenever appropriate, the author of the sources must refer.

4. Define the structure. The structure of the historical framework will depend on the nature of the content. Each researcher can shape the historical context in the way that best suits the research objectives, as long as it is done in a way that is understandable to the reader.

It may interest you: What is context?

Examples of historical context

Historical context of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris

Historical context of the cathedral from the Second World War.

Historical context of the cathedral of the artistic avant-gardes

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