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Macrohistory seeks out large, long-term trends in world history, searching for ultimate patterns through a comparison of proximate details.[1] It favors a comparative or world-historical perspective to determine the roots of changes as well as the developmental paths of society or a historical process.[1]

A macro-historical study might examine Japanese feudalism and European feudalism in order to decide whether feudal structures are an inevitable outcome given certain conditions. Macro-historical studies often "assume that macro-historical processes repeat themselves in explainable and understandable ways".[2] This approach can identify stages in the development of humanity as a whole such as the large-scale direction towards greater rationality, greater liberty or the development of productive forces and communist society, among others.[3]


Macrohistory is distinguished from microhistory, which involves the rigorous and in-depth study of a single event in history.[4] However, these two can be combined such as the case of studying the larger trends of post-slave societies, which include the examination of individual cases and smaller groups.[5] Macrohistory is also distinguished from metahistory with the way the latter recognizes historical works as "a verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse."[6] According to Garry Trompf, macrohistory encompasses but is not limited by metahistory since it takes in broad prospectus of change, including those that are imaginal or speculative.[7]

Macrohistory has four "idea frames" – that past events can show: 1) we are progressing; 2) affairs have worsened; 3) everything is repetitive; and, 4) nothing can be understood without an eschaton (End time) or apocatastasis (Restoration of All Things, Reconstitution).[8]


Examples of macro-historical analysis include Oswald Spengler's assertion that the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay.[3] There is also Arnold J. Toynbee's historical synthesis in explaining the rise and fall of civilizations, which also included those by other historians (e.g. William H. McNeill's The Rise of the West) inspired by his works.[9] The Battle of Ain Jalut and the early Mongol conquests are considered by many historians to be of great macro-historical importance.[10] The former marked the high water point of Mongol conquests, and the first time they had ever been decisively defeated.[citation needed] The early conquests, on the other hand, were pursued for the purpose of long-distance trade but disrupted trade networks until the emergence of the so-called Pax Mongolica when trade relations in Eurasia stabilized.[10]

According to economists Robert Solow,[11] Brian Snowdon,[12] Jason Collins,[13] and to an article in the "Break Through & Mind Changing Idea" section of Wired (Japan),[14][15] Oded Galor's unified growth theory is a macro-historical analysis that has significantly contributed to the understanding of process of development over the entire course of human history and the role of deep-rooted factors in the transition from stagnation to growth and in the emergence of the vast inequality across the globe.[16] According to Wired (Japan) Galor's theory is a global theory comparable to Newton's "law of gravitation", Darwin's "evolution theory" or Einstein's "general relativity".[14]

Macrohistorical publications[edit]

  • Creasy, Edward Shepherd (1851). The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World.
  • Spengler, Oswald (1918). The Decline of the West.
  • Quigley, Carroll (1961). The Evolution of Civilizations.
  • McNeill, William H. (1976). Plagues and People.
  • Rindos, David (1984). Origins of Agriculture: an Evolutionary Perspective.
  • Diamond, Jared (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
  • Roberts, Neil (1998). The Holocene: An Environmental History.
  • McNeill, J.R.; McNeill, William H. (2003). The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History.
  • Christian, David G. (2005). "Macrohistory: The Play of Scales" (PDF). Social Evolution & History. 4 (1): 22–59.
  • Galor, Oded (2011). Unified Growth Theory.
  • Harari, Yuval Noah (2014). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Li, Huaiyin (2019). The Making of the Modern Chinese State: 1600–1950. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138362444.
  2. ^ Matthew C. Wells, Ph.D., Parallelism: A Handbook of Social Analysis. Archived August 24, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Morris, Irwin; Oppenheimer, Joe; Soltan, Karol (2004). Politics from Anarchy to Democracy: Rational Choice in Political Science. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. p. 224. ISBN 0804745838.
  4. ^ Graham, Shawn; Milligan, Ian; Weingart, Scott (2015). Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian's Macroscope. London: Imperial College Press. p. 2. ISBN 9781783266081.
  5. ^ Araujo, Ana Lucia (2017). Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 9781350010598.
  6. ^ Heilmann, MarkAnn; Llewellyn, Mark (2007). Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Women's Writing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 2. ISBN 9781349281855.
  7. ^ Milani, Milad (2014). Sufism in the Secret History of Persia. Oxon: Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 9781844656776.
  8. ^ Handbook of the Theosophical Current. Leiden: BRILL. 2013. p. 375. ISBN 9789004235960.
  9. ^ Yerxa, Donald A. (2009). Recent Themes in World History and the History of the West: Historians in Conversation. University of South Carolina Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-57003-831-0.
  10. ^ a b Etkin, Nina Lilian (2009). Foods of Association: Biocultural Perspectives on Foods and Beverages that Mediate Sociability. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-8165-2777-9.
  11. ^ Solow, Robert. "Endorsements". Princeton University Press.
  12. ^ Snowdon, Brian (June 2008). "Towards a Unified Theory of Economic Growth. Oded Galor on the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern economic growth. An interview with introduction by Brian Snowdon". World Economics. 2 (9). CiteSeerX
  13. ^ Collins, Jason (2013). "Galor's Unified Growth Theory". Jason Collins Blog.
  14. ^ a b Ishikawa, Yoshiko (2018). "The root of economic disparity is attributed to East Africa ten thousands of years ago: Professor Oded Galor's 'Unified Growth Theory'". Wired. 31.
  15. ^ "English Translation of Yoshiko Ishikawa, 'The root of economic disparity is attributed to East Africa ten thousands of years ago: Professor Oded Galor's Unified Growth Theory'". 2018.
  16. ^ Galor, Oded (2011). Unified Growth Theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400838868.