> Publications > China Social Science Review > 2021 > no.2(June 2021)

From Micro-Data to Macro-History: Digital History as a Bridge

| 2021-08-17 | Hits:

China Social Science Review

No.2, 2021

From Micro-Data to Macro-History: Digital History as a Bridge (Abstract)


Liang Chen and Li Zhongqing 


The ideal state of historical research is usually seen as a fusion of two different research interests, “seeking the facts” and “seeking the truth,” based on empirical research at the micro-level and exploring the characteristics and laws of larger historical changes to reach a macro-narrative. While lengthening the research period and narrowing the research perspective were once regarded as the two major approaches to achieving the ideal, the huge increase in the dimensions of the research targets and historical materials that accompanies the shift in perspective has been a great challenge to both approaches, curtailing their effectiveness. In contrast, digital historical studies, relying on quantitative databases based on micro-historical data (information), can conduct multivariate descriptive statistical analysis. This is a more effective way to gather large-scale, long-duration micro-historical data and build a solid meso-historical study. It provides a broad and solid foundation for the construction of macro-historical theories, bridges the “micro” and the “macro,” and at the same time opens up a better balance between “seeking the facts” and “seeking the truth.”