1. Sohail Inayatullah:
“Macrohistory is the study of the histories of social systems, along separate trajectories, through space and time, in search of patterns, even laws of social change. Macrohistory through its delineation of the structures of history—of the causes and mechanisms of historical change; of inquiry into what changes and what stays stable; of an analysis of \the units of history; and a presentation of the stages of history—provides a structure from which to forecast and gain insight into the future. By knowing what historically can and cannot change, scenarios of the future can be more plausible. Thus, through a study of the grand patterns of change, we can better understand the likely futures ahead. By exploring the range of units or collectivities, we can break out of the straitjacket of nations as our only unit for the future. Finally by understanding the stages of history, we can better understand the stages of the future.
Macrohistory gives us the weight of history balancing the pull of the image of the future. It gives a historical distance to the many claims of paradigm shifts, allowing us to distinguish between what are mere perturbations and what are genuine historical transformations. While giving us insights into the human condition, theories of macrohistory also intend to explain past, present, and future.”
2. Jennifer Gidley:
"The concept of macrohistory has emerged from futures studies and includes the philosophy of history, macrosociology, geopolitics, cultural studies, international relations, social and cultural anthropology, and spiritual evolution (Galtung & Inayatullah,1998). It is a term that generously allows for creative, visionary thinking about the past and future while providing a flexible structure from which to view the resultant perspectives."
Stages of History
“.Along with the historical context of the macrohistorian, crucial to understanding the future are the stages of history posited.
Comte had his
- theological (based on religion– faith),
- metaphysical (based on philosophy–reason) and
- positive (based on science– truth).
Sorokin has his three ages of the
- dualistic-integrated and
- sensate but with
- a fourth stage as the transition, the age of skepticism and chaos.
Spencer relates his societal types to phases in history:
- industrial, and
- a fourth yet to emerge.
Vico has his
- Age of Gods,
- Men, and
(from which we return to the Age of Gods) and
Ibn-Khaldun argues for a primitive-civilization-primitive pattern.
More recently Sarkar has his four stages of
- the Shudra Era (Era of Laborers),
- the Ksattriyan Era (Era of Warriors),
- the Vipran Era (Era of Intellectuals) and then
- the Vaeshyan Era (Era of Merchants).
- This is followed by a Shudra (Workers’) revolt,
and the cycles continues again.
More common, of course, is the classical antiquity, medieval, and modern.
Equally, agricultural, industrial, postindustrial with the new phase that of the knowledge economy.
Alternatively, Alvin Toffler has argued for a first wave, second wave and third wave (in terms of dominating technologies and resulting social worlds).
Graham Molitor has extended this much further going out a thousand years. His stages include agriculture (declining since 1880s), industrial (declining since the late 1920s), services (declining since 1956), information (dominant since 1976), leisure (dominant commencing 2015), life sciences (dominant by 2100), mega-materials (dominant 2100– 2300), new atomic age (dominant by 2250–2500) and new space age (dominant before 3000).
Of course, while these stages illuminate the broader categories of history and future, they are not macrohistory. To be macrohistory, more than patterns are required. The mechanisms for change, the reasons behind the fall, or the unlimited rise, an exploration of how civilizations rise after the fall, or continue to grow unabated, are needed for a real macrohistory.
However, stages are useful as they provide a context for scenarios. They contest the assumption of a unified historical and future framework, an unbroken grand narrative of social evolution. This challenge is important as it is this grand narrative that guides many forecasts—probable, plausible, possible. Forecasters thus do not take into account the possibility of the entire framework of what it is we consider nature and truth changing, of the emergence of new nominations of significance, of fundamental discontinuity. Believing that the future will be data-led—focused only on current dominant drivers (economy or technology), forecasters present logical scenarios based on short-run current understandings (see Multilayered Scenarios, the Scientific Method and Global Models). “