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Realism and Social Science offers the reader an authoritative and compelling guide to critical realism and its implications for social theory and for the practice of social science. It offers an alternative both to approaches which are overly confident about the possibility of a successful social science and those which are defeatist about any possibility of progress in understanding the social world. Written by one of the leading social theorists in the field, it demonstrates the virtues of critical realism for theory and empirical research in social science, and provides a critical engagement with leading non-realist approaches.
Realism and Social Science offers an authoritative guide to critical realism and an assessment of its virtues in comparison with other leading traditions in social science. It is illustrated throughout with relevant and accessible examples.
In its second edition, Method in Social Science was widely praised for its penetrating analysis of central questions in social science discourse. This revised edition comes with a new preface and a full bibliography. The book is intended for students and researchers familiar with social science but having little or no previous experiences of philosophical and methodological discussion, and for those who are interested in realism and method.
Realism and Social Science offers the reader an authoritative and compelling guide to critical realism and its implications for social theory and for the practice of social science. It offers an alternative both to approaches which are overly confident about the possibility of a successful social science and those which are defeatist about any possibility of progress in understanding the social world. Written by one of the leading social theorists in the field, it demonstrates the virtues of critical realism for theory and empirical research in social science, and provides a critical engagement with leading non-realist approaches. Part I provides a guide to the key features of critical realism, illustrated with relevant and accessible examples of empirical research which it has informed. Part II presents a sympathetic critique of postmodernist themes in social science, such as anti-essentialism, social constructionism and the critique of grand narratives. This acknowledges many of the problems raised by postmodernism but offers novel ways of resolving them. Part III addresses issues concerning the role of space in social theory and problems of 'geohistorical explanation'. Part IV assesses arguments that social scientists must necessarily be critical of the societies they study, and presents a case for ending the exclusion of normative theories from social science. Realism and Social Science will be essential reading for anyone interested in the present state of social theory.
In recent years, methodological debates in the social sciences have increasingly focused on issues relating to epistemology. Realism and Sociology makes an original contribution to the debate, charting a middle ground between postmodernism and positivism. Critics often hold that realism tries to assume some definitive account of reality. Against this it is argued throughout the book that realism can combine a strong definition of social reality with an anti-foundational approach to knowledge. The position of realist anti-foundationalism that is argued for is developed and defended via the use of immanent critiques. These deal primarily with post-Wittgensteinian positions that seek to define knowledge and social reality in terms of 'rule-following practices' within different 'forms of life' and 'language games'. Specifically, the argument engages with Rorty's neo-pragmatism and the structuration theory of Giddens. The philosophy of Popper is also drawn upon in a critically appreciative way. While the positions of Rorty and Giddens seek to deflate the claims of 'grand theory', albeit in different ways, they both end up with definitive claims about knowledge and reality that preclude social research. By avoiding the general deflationary approach that relies on reference to 'practices', realism is able to combine a strong social ontology with an anti-foundational epistemology, and thus act as an underlabourer for empirical research.
This cutting edge collection of new and previously published articles by philosophers and social scientists addresses just what it means to invoke causal mechanisms, or powers, in the context of offering a causal explanation. A unique collection, it offers the reader various disciplinary and inter-disciplinary divides, helping to stake out a new, neo-Aristotelian position within contemporary debate.

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