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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. 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.