Gianfranco Miglio

Premises for a methodology of administrative history

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Administration; Government; Institution; Scientific Method; Methodology.

The essay published in the first of the "Annali della Fondazione italiana per la storia amministrativa" in 1964 is of fundamental importance to understand the scientific-academic origins of administrative history in Italy. The author lists and examines each of the "methodological issues" that, in his opinion, underpin the status of "scientific autonomy" of this field in specialist historiography. The main issue concerns the "universality" of the object of administrative history. In order to enjoy scientific autonomy, a historical discipline must deal with a phenomenon that is not limited in time and space. After considering the etymological distinction between "administratio" and "Verwaltung", Miglio identifies the universality of the object of administrative history in the perpetual reality of the "execution" of each sovereign act of administration. As such, administration can be scientifically analysed (and be comparable in its different historical manifestations) according to "types", in line with Weber's theory. The construction of such "types", besides requiring the precise identification of the broad fields of interest of administrative history (competence and activities of an office or magistrature, organisation and changes in office, staff, etc.), demands, in particular, a thorough knowledge and mastery of the concept of "institution". The systematic survey of this concept and its various uses is, in fact, the necessary premise for clarifying the systematic relations and connections between administrative history and the history of institutions. In its conclusion, the essay outlines a classification of the primary "sources" of administrative history which is still relevant today.

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