What is Critical Realism? And why should I care?


Critical realism is a meta-theory, which is a series of philosophical positions on a range of matters, cinluding ontology, causation, structure, persons, and forms of explanation. It represents a broad alliance of social theorists and researchers trying to develop post-positivist social science. Critical realism situates itself as an alternative paradigm both to scientistic forms of positivism concerned with regularities, regresssion-based variables models, and the quest for law-like forms; and also to the strong interpretivist or postmodern turn, with a focus on hermeneutics and description at the cost of causation.

Defining critical realism is not an easy task however. There is not one unitary framework, set of beliefs, methodology, or dogma that unites critical realists as a whole. As a result, the Critical Realism Network is committed to making resources available to better explore the various dynamics and currents of critical realism in order to build a more philosophically-informed and theoretically-grounded social science. In the Resource Library you will find links to classic books and texts drawing upon critical realism. In the Reading Plan you will find a short series of textual engagements which will give you the contours of critical realism. In our Blog you will find a continually updated series of short articles on theory, methods, ethics and critique. In Webinars, Presentations, and Interviews, you will find over 20 hours of videos on YouTube discussing everything from the basics of critical realism, right through to exciting new research.