Theory and Society

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 841-881

First online:

Historical events as transformations of structures: Inventing revolution at the Bastille

  • William H. SewellJr.Affiliated withUniversity of Chicago

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Just as the taking of the Bastille led to a cascade of further events, so the theoretical reflections touched off by my analysis of that event has led to a cascade of further reflections. And as the analyst must draw an arbitrary boundary to establish analytical closure to an event, so must I bring to a close an article that still seems to me radically open and unfinished. I believe I have written enough to establish that thinking about historical events as I do here - that is, treating them as sequences of occurrences that result in durable transformations of structures - is potentially fruitful. Precisely how fruitful can only be determined by future work on other historical events.