Online academic resources are indispensable for scholars today. Repositories like online journals, library databases, and academic search engines have altered how the majority of research is conducted. But with the avalanche of online archives, it can be time consuming and often unproductive to navigate hundreds of academic search engines, especially when it comes to a somewhat obscure philosophy of social science such as critical realism.
I’ve saved you some time and sourced out some of the best online resources for learning more about critical realism. These great blogs and websites will keep you up to date on recent publications, current debates, and upcoming conferences. This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, but rather provide you with an archive of resources to equip you to learn more about critical realism. If you have any questions or recommendations for additional resources, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Powers, Capacities and Dispositions– Ruth Groff (Political Theory, St. Louis University)
Ruth Groff is a leading expert in the field of realism and causal powers. Her principal scholarly interests and research crosses the boundaries between philosophy, social theory, and political thought. In her blog, Groff explains that the idea is “to establish a shared, non-competitive space for conversation and the exchange of work, resources and events related to non-Humean realism about causal powers at various levels of abstraction.” She writes extensively on critical realism, metaphysics, social theory, causation, and epistemology. She has published ‘Critical Realism, Post-positivism and the Possibility of knowledge’ (2004) and ‘Subject & Object: Frankfurt School Writings on Epistemology, Ontology and Method’ (2014).
Understanding Society– Daniel Little (Philosophy, University of Michigan-Dearborn)
Daniel Little’s scholarly interests and research focus on the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences and the problem of social structures, and action. In his blog, Little explores questions about social agency and structure in a global world and addresses a series of topics in the history and philosophy of social science. He ponders questions such as, what is involved in “understanding society”? His blog can be seen as a web-based, dynamic monograph on the philosophy of social science as well as some foundational issues about the nature of the social world. Little’s recent publications include New Contributions to the Philosophy of History (Springer, 2010) and The Paradox of Wealth and Poverty: Mapping the Ethical Dilemmas of Gobal Development (Westview, 2003).
Materially Social – Dave Elder-Vass (Social Sciences, Loughborough University) (link updated, Oct 2022)
As an advocate of a critical realist approach to social ontology, Elder-Vass’ main research interests focus on the social world, ontology, the economy, and the philosophy of social science. In his blog, Elder-Vass writes extensively on issues related to critical realism, the digital economy, and the political economy of practices. He explores questions like what kinds of entities are causally influential in the social world and how it might be possible for them to have emergent causal powers. His recent work, The Causal Power of Social Structures, addresses both the general theory of emergence and its application to the sociological concepts of social structure and human agency. In The Reality of Social Construction, Elder-Vass argues for intentionality and norm circles as indispensible to realist accounts of the social world. He is currently working on his next book project called, Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy, which promotes a new political economy of practices.
Sociological Imagination– Mark Carrigan (Digital Sociologist, The Centre for Social Ontology) (link updated, Oct 2022)
By his own admission, this website is an ambitious “attempt to create a new online space for public sociology” that hosts more than blog posts from different scholars. The website has now organically evolved to encompass original articles, commentaries, and podcasts. To that end, they have indeed achieved their ambitious agenda of creating a home for sociologists who are engaged not only in their respective field or discipline, but who also have emerging interests outside of their research topics. This website is a great resources for students and scholars alike because it disseminates relevant and interesting sociological content which encourages engagement and active collaboration.
Critical Realism & Feminist Theory- Angela Martinez Dy (Entrepreneurship, Loughborough University)
Martinez Dy’s research interests focus primarily on entrepreneurship, feminist theory, critical realism, intersectionality, critical gender and race studies, and the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences. She identifies philosophical tensions and limitations within contemporary intersectionality theory and explores how critical realism offers the potential to move beyond these limitations to provide causal explanatory accounts of the ‘lived experiences’ of social privilege and disadvantage. Martinez has presented on “The Possibilities of Realism for Feminist Philosophy: Developing Intersectionality and Standpoint Theory from a Critical Realist Perspective” (2015) and her recent publications include ‘Developing a Critical Realist Positional Approach to Intersectionality’ (2014) in the Journal of Critical Realism.
Broad Reflections on Sociology– Graham Scambler (Sociology, University College London)
Throughout his extensive career, Scambler has covered many different topics from illness, health, sex work, interdiscplinarity, and the sociology of sport. Alongside his diverse research interests, he maintains a rigorous interest in philosophy and critical theory, in particular, the way in which agency is influenced by social structures. His blog includes a number of excellent insights and articles ranging from broad reflections on sociology, critical theory, and its applications, to deep engagements with Habermas and critical realism. Alongside Mark Carrigan and Tom Brock, Scambler is currently editing the book, Structure, Culture and Agency: Selected Papers of Margaret Archer (London; Routledge).