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Reconstructing Sociology: The Critical Realist Approach by Professor Douglas Porpora

The Critical Realism Network is very excited about this new introductory-level critical realism book written by Professor Porpora, Reconstructing Sociology: The Critical Realist Perspective. This book offers a general critique of sociology, particularly in the United States, from a critical realist perspective. It serves as excellent introductory text to critical realism for students and scholars of sociology. Written in a lively, accessible style, Porpora argues that sociology currently operates with deficient accounts of truth, culture, structure, agency, and causality that are all better served by a critical realist perspective. This approach argues against the alternative sociological perspectives, in particular the dominant positivism which privileges statistical techniques and experimental design over ethnographic and historical approaches. In this book, Porpora also compares critical realism favorably with a range of other approaches, including Bourdieu, Actor-Network Theory, pragmatism, interpretivism, practice theory, and relational sociology. Numerous sociological examples are included and each chapter addresses well-known and current work in sociology.

Table of Contents

  1. Seven myths of American sociology
  2. Do realists run regressions?
  3. What is truth?
  4. Whatever happened to social structure?
  5. Are we not men – or, rather, persons?
  6. What and where is culture?
  7. Do we need critical realism?
  8. So what do we do with it?


“Are you unconvinced that a regression equation constitutes an explanation but do not quite know what does? Are you equally incredulous that ethnography and historical narrative do not explain? Maybe you hold the heretical view that not all reality is socially constructed but wonder how to formulate this counter case. Are you perhaps troubled by what various perspectives in sociology do with human personhood – decentering it, dissolving it into discourse, or otherwise deconstructing it? Perhaps you harbor doubts about the posture of value freedom that is supposed to characterize science. If these and other such disquieting thoughts about sociology fail to trouble you, carry on: you do not need CR. Otherwise, you do – at least a discussion about it.” (Page 1)

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