Event-structure analysis (ESA) is a member of a family of formal analytic procedures designed to analyze and interpret text, in particular the temporal sequences constituting the narrative of a historical event. Its basic purpose is to aid the analyst in “unpacking” an event – that is, in breaking it into constituent parts – and analytically reconstituting it as a causal interpretation of what happened and why it happened as it did. ESA focuses on and exploits an event's “narrativity” – its temporal orderliness, connectedness and unfolding – thereby helping historians and social scientists infer causal links between actions in an event, identify its contingencies and follow their consequences, and explore its myriad sequential patterns. Unlike most other formal analytical techniques, it is completely non-numeric and non-statistical: ESA's value is largely heuristic and centered on how it relentlessly probes the analyst's construction, comprehension and interpretation of the event.
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