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How is Critical Realism being applied across multiple disciplines?

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As Project Manager, I’ve been immersed in the literature surrounding critical realism from different perspectives and a variety of disciplines. Building off Dr. Margarita Mooney’s blog post on 5 Great Articles Using Critical Realism in Social Science Research, I’ve completed additional research to demonstrate how CR is being applied in human geography, industrial marketing, theology, political philosophy, and education.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations for additional articles or resources, please reach out to me (laura.donnelly@yale.edu).

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Yeung, Henry Wai-chung (1997). Critical Realism and Realist Research in Human Geography: A method or a philosophy in search of a method? Progress in Human Geography, Sage Journals, 21: 1, pp. 51-74.

Abstract: Recent philosophical debates in human geography tend to misappropriate critical realism as a method per se. Drawing upon an extensive review of the realist philosophy and method in social science, this article argues that critical realism is a philosophy in search of a method. It first delves into recent debates about critical realism within the wider geographical discourse. It then suggests three useful guidelines in executing realist research in human geography: iterative abstraction, qualified grounded theory method and methodological triangulation. The article ends with a detailed empirical example for the readers to work through of the ways in which realist research can be practiced in human geography.

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Easton, Geoff (2010). Critical Realism in Case Study Research, Industrial Marketing Management, 31, pp. 118-128.

Abstract: Case study research is the most popular research method for researchers in industrial marketing. However despite a number of attempts the problem of satisfactorily justifying the use of case research remains. This paper proposes critical realism as a coherent, rigorous and novel philosophical position that not only substantiates case research as a research method but also provides helpful implications for both theoretical development and research process. The article describes the critical realist approach due to Sayer and develops a general application of a critical realist approach to case research. An example of its use in practice is presented using a case study of the development of a buyer–seller relationship after the installation of a new MIS system.

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Emami, Zohreh and Riordan, Timothy (1998). Tony Lawson on Critical Realism: What’s teaching got to go with it? Review of Social Economy, 56: 3, pp. 311-323

Abstract: In this article, we explore the implications of Tony Lawson’s critical realism for teaching. Rather than offering a critique of Lawson’s perspective, we use his ideas as they appear to relate to our experience as educators in our respective disciplines. In this sense we hope to suggest a way of integrating disciplinary scholarship and reflection on teaching. Therefore, we emphasize the aspects of Lawson’s work which are most meaningful to us, namely his attempt to develop a combination of epistemological relativism and ontological realism and his emphasis on the relationship between social structure and human agency.

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Shipway, Brad (2000). Critical Realism and Theological Critical Realism: Opportunities for dialogue? Journal of Critical Realism, Alethia, 3: 2, pp. 29-33.

Abstract: The existence of a ‘religious’ strain of critical realism predating ‘secular’ critical realism was brought to the attention of the Bhaskar List by Tobin Nellhaus in June 2000 and raised by Doug Porpora at the International Association of Critical Realism Conference in August. The aim of this paper is to examine in a little more detail the characteristics of religious critical realism. In briefly outlining some of the recent developments in this area, some similarities and differences between critical realism and theological critical realism arise which may be of interest to readers of Alethia.

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McWherter, Dustin (2012). Reconstructing Bhaskar’s Transcendental Analysis of Experimental Activity, The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 8:1, pp. 199-226

Abstract: In this essay, I attempt a thorough reconstruction and modification of Roy Bhaskar’s “transcendental analysis of experimental activity” to show that this analysis contains a powerful critique of regularity theories of causal laws and a strong case for a transcendental realist, powers-based theory of causal laws. Despite the short and scattered places in which this analysis occurs in Bhaskar’s texts, my reconstruction synthesizes these textual resources to formulate a unified analysis of experimentation that derives three distinct conclusions from four presuppositions and a complex of transcendental arguments. These conclusions are: 1) Extra-experimental reality is, to a significant extent, an open system, 2) Causal laws must be distinguished from constant conjunctions of events, and 3) Causal laws are the transcendentally real tendencies of generative mechanisms.

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