Tijd in de historische sociologie van Ibn Khaldûn | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 132, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



The Islamic thinker Ibn Khaldûn (1332-1406) developed a historical sociology in which change and its counterpart, habit, were essential components. There is a remarkable similarity to the ideas of later Western sociologists such as Weber and Bourdieu. The emergence of power in rural areas is followed by violent migration to urban ones, and the formation of dynastic states. Every dynasty starts out in a nomadic or agricultural society, and in its subsequent urban form passes through the stages of rise, flowering, and decline. Urban trade and industry usually develop at the same pace as those dynastic states. All this is a cyclical process. Simultaneous processes unfold in upward or downward spirals in which the various factors strengthen or weaken the impact of the others. Change is thus a central feature of this system, but it is counterbalanced by the stabilizing factor of habitus (or routine), which can assert itself at every level: social, cultural, and mental. As a result, different sectors of a society may develop at different speeds. Ibn Khaldûn brilliantly combines his cyclical model with a linear principle: that of traditional Islamic chronology. His awareness of time as a crucial variable is also apparent from his comments on how a researcher’s position on the timeline influences what he is able to observe – and from his profoundly historical view of man.


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