Five Related Working Papers to Reading History Sideways
by Arland Thornton

As explained in Reading History Sideways (pages 10-11), the breadth of the material covered and the constraints of space required that the book paint with a very broad brush that provided only the barest essential of the big picture. Reading History Sideways for example, did not go into great detail about the specific ways in which particular scholars of the late 1700s and 1800s used the reading history sideways method to arrive at their conclusions. Instead, it provided the conceptual framework they used, their data sources, and their conclusions to document the practice, with numerous references to the actual work of these scholars for readers to peruse on their own. The book took this approach, with strong encouragement from reviewers and the University of Chicago Press, to produce a readable volume that was not burdened with extensive quotes from earlier generations of scholars.

However, to provide more information for readers interested in this detail, Arland Thornton has written a separate paper in which he provides the descriptions by several scholars of the late 1700s and 1800s of the reading history sideway methodology they used for studying social change using cross-sectional data. He has also written four papers on the ways in which many family scholars used the developmental paradigm, reading history sideways, and cross-sectional data to create or reinforce myths about family change. One of these papers describes how Malthus and subsequent writers used extensive cross-national data and reading history sideways to document and explain the supposed substantial increases in both celibacy and the ages people married. A second paper describes how Westermarck used even more extensive cross-national data and sideways history to reach similar conclusions as Malthus about marital change. A third discusses Le Play's monumental cross-national study and the ways he utilized it to document a supposed transition from complex extended households to predominantly nuclear households. Finally, the fourth paper examines how several scholars, including Millar, Durkheim, and Maine, used cross-national data and reading history sideways to document supposed changes in family relationships and processes. These five working papers are not exhaustive in that they do not cover all of the relevant authors from the late 1700s and 1800s.

The five papers are listed below, with links to the texts. These papers are preliminary drafts that have not gone through final proofing and verification. Readers who find errors in the drafts are invited to contact Arland Thornton with that information, so that they can be corrected in future revisions.

The posted papers are as follows:

Arland Thornton. Descriptions of the Reading History Sideways Method (the Comparative Method) by Scholars of the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. Working Paper. November 2007. [PDF]

Arland Thornton. Robert Malthus, the Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and Family Myths. Working Paper. December 2005. [PDF]

Arland Thornton. Frederick Le Play, the Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and Family Myths. Working Paper. December 2005. [PDF]

Arland Thornton. Edward Westermarck, the Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and Family Myths. Working Paper. November 2005. [PDF]

Arland Thornton. John Millar and Other Scholars of the 1700s and 1800s Using the Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and International Cross-Sectional Data to Reach Conclusions about Changes in Family Relationships and Processes. Working Paper. November 2005. [PDF]

Further Information about Thornton's Book, Reading History Sideways

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 Reading History Sideways book cover

Recent Pub

Kavas & Thornton. "Developmental Idealism and Beliefs About Marriage and Fertility in Turkey," in Population Research and Policy Review.

Recent Pub

Allendorf, Thornton, Mitchell, and Young-Demarco. "The Influence of Developmental Idealism on Marital Attitudes, Expectations, and Timing." Journal of Family Issues.

Recent Pub

Allendorf, Keera. "Parents' Valuation of Approving a Child's Spouse in a Context of Marital Change." Journal of Family Issues.

Reading History Sideways

The method of reading history sideways is described and critiqued by Arland Thornton

© 2019
Developmental Idealism
Population Studies Center
University of Michigan