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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article extends the concept of events to bring cultural analysis to bear on political explanation and privileges “thick description” and narrative as methodological tools. Drawing on the views of Emile Durkheim, it argues that events constitute “social facts”—phenomena with sufficient identity and coherence that the social collectivity recognizes them as discrete and important. The article first considers the tension between the political and the cultural using a metaphor from sports and biology that unites agency and nature. It then discusses the intersection of events and experience as an analytic category that incorporates the “counterfactual” turn in historical analysis by drawing on William Sewell’s sociological theory of events. It also argues for the existence of “political facts” and concludes by proposing an analytic typology of political facts based on the classification of events along a temporal or spatial axis.

Keywords: cultural analysis, thick description, narrative, Emile Durkheim, social facts, experience, counterfactual turn, William Sewell, political facts

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