Upcoming Webinars

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

Real Types vs Ideal Types


Professor George Steinmetz (University of Michigan Ann Arbor)

Professor Philip Gorski (Yale University)

Abstract: in discussing explanation of social phenomena, including systems of meaning, Weber develops the concept of an ideal type. For Weber the ideal type:

‘‘It is not a description of reality but it aims to give an unambiguous means of expression to such a description . . . An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct’’

But where does this leave realism? … is it possible to have real types? and if so, what would they look like? how would we construct them? how would we avoid the problem of one-sidedness? and how would we use them in our explanations?