The Reading Plan

An introduction to critical realism in six simple steps

1.) Begin with an introductory overview:

Margaret Archer, Claire Decoteau. Philip Gorski. Daniel Little, Douglas Porpora, Timothy Rutzou, Christian Smith, George Steinmetz, and Frederic Vandenberghe “What is Critical Realism”. Perspectives, 2016, (38, 2), pp. 4 – 9 [Click Here]

Gorski, P (2013). “What is Critical Realism? And Why Should You Care?”, Contemporary Sociology, 42: 658ff

Sayer, A (2000). Realism and Social Science, London: SAGE [Part 1 Introducing Critical Realism, [pp. 1 – 29]

Bhaskar, Roy (2011). “Realism in the Natural Sciences”, Reclaiming Reality. London: Routledge [pp. 9 – 20]

3.) Ground this in the implications of CR for methods:

Gorski, P (2004). ‘The Poverty of Deductivism: A Constructive Realist Model of Sociological Explanation’, Sociological Methodology, 34.1. pp. 1 – 33

Steinmetz, G (2014). ‘Comparative History and its Critics: A Genealogy and a Possible Solution’ in Prasenjit Duara, Viren Murthy, and Andrew Sartori (eds.), A Companion to Global Historical Thought. [pp. 412 – 436]

Porpora, D (2001). ‘Do Realists Run Regressions?’ in Potter and Jose Lopez (eds.), After Postmodernism London: Continuum.

Danermark, B. Ekström, M. Jakobsen, L. Karlsson. J.C. (1997). “Critical Methodological Pluralism” in Explaining Society: An Introduction to Critical Realism in the Social Sciences. London: Routledge [pp. 150 – 176]

5.) Now move onto the question of structure, agency, society and culture:

Porpora, D. (1998). ‘Four Concepts of Social Structure’ in Critical Realism Essential Readings, London: Routledge [pp. 339 – 356]

Archer, M, (2003). “The Process of Mediation between Structure and Agency” in Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation, [pp. 130 – 150]

Bhaskar, R. (1998). “3.1 Introduction” & “3.2 Against Individualism” in The Possibility of Naturalism, 3rd edition. London: Routledge. [pp. 27 – 47]

2.) Understand what science entails and explore the relationship between causes, powers, laws and mechanisms:

Bhaskar, R. (2008). “On the Actuality of the Casual Connection’ A Realist Theory of Science. London: Routledge [pp. 53 – 59]

Collier, A (1994). ‘Experiment and Depth Realism’ in Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy [pp. 31 – 69]

4.) Deepen this by exploring the concepts of emergence and stratification and their implications for how we understanding social structure and human persons:

Steinmetz, G “Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and “Small N’s in Sociology.” Sociological Theory, Vol. 22, number 3 (2003), [pp. 371 – 400]

Lawson, T (2013). Emergence and Morphogenesis: Causal Reduction and Downward Causation? In Archer, M [Ed.] Social Morphogensis. Springer, New York

Collier, A (1994). ‘Stratification and Emergence’ Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy, [pp. 107 – 136]

6.) And from here to questions of ethics, values and human flourishing:

Gorski, P. (2013). ‘Beyond the Fact-Value Distinction: Ethical Naturalism and the Social Sciences’ in Soc 50. [pp. 543 – 553]

Sayer, A. (2011). “Chapter 2: Values within Reason” in Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [pp. 23 – 58]

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