Presentation on theme: "Realism – a basic introduction Professor Bjørn Asheim, Lecture, NORSI/PING PhD course University of Agder, Kristiansand, 25th October 2012."— Presentation transcript:
Realism – a basic introduction Professor Bjørn Asheim, Lecture, NORSI/PING PhD course University of Agder, Kristiansand, 25th October 2012
Why a course in philosphy of social science To write a PhD dissertation a more advanced level of reflection is needed. To undertake this a certain level of knowledge is required: On methods On theory On methodology, which is based on knowledge of: Epistemology Ontology
Positivism All forms of positivism rest upon four basic principles: Phenomenalism (all objects of science is observable) Nominalism (atomistic reductionism) Value freedom (as in science) Unity of science (based on the epistemology and ontology of science)
Realism vs. positivism Realism represents a methodological alternative to positivism of carrying out empirical research. Realism is based on: a non-atomistic ontology and a non-empiricistic epistemology While theoretical work in a realist framework is done by abstraction, i.e. to disclose objective existing structures and mechanism which is not directly observable, positivism is not distinguishing between ontology and epistemology due to the atomistic reductionism
Realism vs. positivism In realism theory is understood as: Conceptualisation (by abstraction) in contrast to positivism’ Ordering framework (e.g. a model) This difference implies a distinction between a priori construction of theory by abstraction (in realism), and a posteriori theory formation through theoretical and empirical generalisations (in positivism)
Realism Realism argues that reality is stratified, and that no level (strata) can be reduced to the next: The real, i.e. structures and mechanism which is not directly observable The actual, i.e. events, which is observable phenomenon The empirical, i.e. the experience of events Causality is grounded in the interactions between generative mechanisms in the domain of the real
Abstract vs. concrete research Abstract research: The realist terminology for theoretical categories of necessary relations, i.e. reciprocal dependent conditions (i.e. structures). The construction of theoretical categories is described as abstract analysis of structures and mechanisms.
Abstract vs. concrete research Necessary (internal) relations (causal powers) – the ’real’. Internal, necessary relations, which contains causal powers as generative structures and mechanisms. Concrete research: The realist terminology for the empirical study of contingent relations
Concrete research Contingent (external) relations on the level of the actual Contingent relations is defined as non- reciprocal, dependent conditions (i.e. time and space specific conditions) Contingent relations are not without causality but without necessity
Causal explanation in realism Causal explanation through retroduction, starting with abstract research (conceptualisation) and using concepts and theories in carrying out concrete, intensive research (contextual analysis) integrating historical, contingent relations ’on the way’. Can be compared with Marx’ ’two route strategy’, i.e. from the material concrete to the theoretical-abstract, and from the abstract to the concrete
Strenghts of realism Epistemological basis for carrying out theoretical informed case-studies (in contrast to case studies as an explorative strategy, i.e. an inductive, empiricist way) Concrete research is looked upon as one specific type of research Abstract research gives theoretical work an indpendent status Theoretical informed case studies aim at disclosing causal powers explaining the existence of specific phenomenon and not deciding the extent and/or frequency of events
Concrete research Can context represent explanatory factors (Warde): ’the distinction between necessity and contingency renders illegitimate concerns with contextuality’ Sayer: ’Causal contexts’ = causal powers combined with ’contingencies’ which activate structures and mechanisms in time and space specific contexts
Strenghts of realism As a methodology for comparative research as the distinction between abstract and concrete research enables the opposition between nomothetic (generalisations) and ideographic (historical specific (’unique’)) approaches to be transcended: 1.Unique and independent 2.General and independent 3.Unique and interdependent 4.General and interdependent
Comparative research Most relevant for comparative studies (as well as locality research): ’Unique’ (concrete research) and ’interdependent’ (abstract research) Causal powers of structures and mechanisms can be generelizable as they are necessary features of objects
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.