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This site is part of the Critical Realism Network, which was created by the ‘Human Flourishing and Critical Realism in the Social Sciences’ project based in the sociology department of Yale University. The network fostered opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarly research and dialogue about the direction of contemporary social theory and research. It hosted a number of working groups, symposiums, regional engagements, and conferences, alongside Philosophy of Social Sciences Summer Seminars for graduate students, post-doctoral participants, and junior faculty. These opportunities provided scholars with the opportunity for sustained engagement and to exchange ideas and insights in collaboration with their colleagues. The establishment of the network was generously funded by two project grants from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Projects

The Human Flourishing and Critical Realism in the Social Sciences Project (2014-2017) had the goal of generating broader awareness and engagement with critical realism across disciplinary boundaries. In addition to funding the project team it was responsible for a number of outputs including

  • this website
  • a series of webinars and video interviews
  • a symposium on the History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • a conference on Values and Flourishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences (March 2017)
  • a symposium on Realist Ethnography, held at the University of Illinois at Chicago (March 2017)
  • a workshop on Critical Realism & Post-Positivist Sociology, held at the University of California, Santa Barbara (June 2017)

This was followed up by the Beyond Positivism: Re-Imagining the Social Sciences Project (2017-2018), which aimed to broaden, deepen, and institutionalize the network and with it, social scientific forms of moral enquiry. As well as continuing the previous work, this project also produced

  • a video course introducing critical realism
  • the Beyond Positivism: Theory, Methods, and Values in Social Science Conference, held in Montreal (August 2017)

The Project Team

Philip S. Gorski

Philip S. Gorski (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley 1996) is a Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at Yale University. He was the Director of the Critical Realism Network and the Principal Investigator of the two projects. He is a comparative-historical sociologist with strong interests in theory and methods and in modern and early modern Europe. His empirical work focuses on topics such as state-formation, nationalism, revolution, economic development and secularization with particular attention to the interaction of religion and politics. Other current interests include the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences and the nature and role of rationality in social life.

Laura Donnelly

Laura Donnelly was the Assistant Director of the Critical Realism Network in the Yale University Sociology Department. She received her undergraduate education at University of St Andrews, Scotland, reading systematic theology and classical philosophy. She earned Master’s degrees from Emory University and Yale University in theology, political ethics, and Islamic studies. She is particularly interested in religion and politics in her home of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her professional interests and expertise include managing large scale research grants, program and curriculum development, managing research and publications, strategic communications, and stakeholder engagement for non-profit organizations.

Timothy Rutzou

Timothy Rutzou is a sociologist and philosopher who works within the philosophy of social science and the sociology of knowledge and has a number of interests including continental philosophy, political ontology, Marxism, cultural sociology and the sociology of art. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University College London studying under Roy Bhaskar. His dissertation analysed discourses concerning the language of ‘science’ and ‘the real’ across British and French philosophy in the 1960’s – 90’s underpining much of the ‘science wars’. Other interests include the philosophy of science, hermeneutics, existentialism, feminist and queer theory, and critical theory.

Affiliated Faculty

Scholars affiliated to the project included Margaret Archer, Alison Assiter, Larissa Buchholz, Claire Laurier Decoteau, Laura Ford, Ruth Groff, Daniel Little, John Mohr, Douglas Porpora, George Steinmetz, and Frédéric Vandenberghe.

Associated Fellows

Katelin Albert, Elisabeth Becker, Esther Chan, Paige Sweet, Ben Manski, Huseyin Rasit, and Sam Stabler.