Does critical realism enable social scientists to do better empirical work?
We will explore this question by engaging with concrete research projects currently being
undertaken by affiliated faculty and alumni of the Critical Realism Network.
In the next few webinars we will be exploring various issues in theory and methodology through dialogue and discussion.
Real Types vs Ideal Types
Professor George Steinmetz & Philip Gorski
More information coming soon
Social Science and Realism after Assemblage Theory
Presenters: Professor Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough University) & Dr. Timothy Rutzou (Yale University)
Date and time: Wednesday, June 7 from 11:00 – 12:30 pm EST
Meeting Description: 45 minute lecture and discussion followed by a Q&A
Abstract: A central challenge faced by any realist sociology is the difficultly of building a social ontology which can cope with the problem of heterogeneity on the one hand, and stability on the other, and a methodology which able to cope with such an ontology. The social world is characterized by both the existence of wildly contingent causal constellations coming together in highly variable ways on different occasions, and recurrent structures which produce degrees of stability with repeatedly consistent causal powers and effects. Assemblage theory, developed in the work of Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, Manuel DeLanda, and Daniel Little, offers a fruitful way forward in thinking through these issues, but has tended to neglect important aspects of the social world in the name of heterogeneity and process. Focusing on DeLanda’s book Assemblage Theory we trace the theoretical lineage of Assemblage Theory, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, outline possible contributions of critical realism, and propose a synthesis centered around mechanisms of regulation and deregulation, and the tendencies of things to persist and recur. In this way we can see assemblage and structure as related and contrasting ideal types rather than alternative or competing social ontologies, and assemblage theory as a theory and a methodology able to cope with the challenges this raises.