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Realist Inquiry in Social Science

Realist Inquiry in Social Science

December 2015 | 168 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Realist Inquiry in Social Science is an invaluable guide to conducting realist research. Written by highly regarded experts in the field, the first part of the book sets out the fundamentals necessary for rigorous realist research, while the second part deals with a number of its most important applications, discussing it in the context of case studies, action research and grounded theory amongst other approaches.

Grounded in philosophical methodology, this book goes beyond understanding knowledge justification only as empirical validity, but instead emphasises the importance of theoretical criteria for all good research. The authors consider both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and approach methodology from an interdisciplinary viewpoint.  Using abductive reasoning as the starting point for an insightful journey into realist inquiry, this book demonstrates that scientific realism continues to be of major relevance to the social sciences. 


Chapter 1: Scientific Realism
What is Realism?  
Naturalistic Realism  
Global and Local Realism  
Realist Methodology  
The Centrality of Method  
Realism in the Social Sciences  
Chapter 2: Evidence
Social Science Preliminaries  
Empirical Evidence and Theory  
Coherentism and Naturalism  
Varieties of Evidence: Pragmatic Considerations  
Chapter 3: Validity
Test Validity, Operational Definition, and Logical Empiricism  
Holism, Realism, and Ontological Commitment  
Construct Validity and Logical Empiricism  
Construct Validity, Generalization in Experiments, and Epistemology  
Paradigms of Validity  
Coherence Justification  
Chapter 4: Grounded Theory
The Abductive Theory of Method  
Problem Formulation  
Phenomena Detection  
Theory Construction  
ATOM as Grounded Theory Method  
Chapter 5: Factor Analysis
Exploratory Factor Analysis and Scientific Inference  
Methodological Challenges to Exploratory Factor Analysis  
Exploratory Factor Analysis and Other Factor Analytic Methods  
Chapter 6: Case Study
Constitutive and Regulative Rules  
What is A Case?  
Generalizing From Cases  
A Case Study in China  
Making Generalizations  
Improving Knowledge of Generalizations  

The current replication crisis in psychology makes professors’ Haig and Evers book as timely as it is erudite. Using philosophical realism as their organizing principle, they take the reader on a creative and insightful tour through validity, Grounded Theory, factor analysis and case studies in an effort to improve and advance psychological research. 

James W. Grice
Department of Psychology, Oklahoma State University

Realist Inquiry in Social Science comes as a complete breath of fresh air in a domain predominated by anti-realism. I was especially charmed and mesmerized by its recognition of the primacy of problems and its focus on abductive reasoning.

Tim De Mey
Assistant Professor in Theoretical Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam

This book provides an accessible and systematic introduction to Realist methodologies in the social sciences. It covers qualitative and quantitative research methods from a Realist perspective, making clear how this approach  provides a fruitful and practical way for social scientists to approach research methods. That a book of such clarity should have been written by Brian Haig and Colin Evers is not surprising.  Over the past three decades, Realism has moved from the periphery of methodological considerations  to taking centre stage. In the social sciences these authors have been central to the change in Realism’s fortunes. 

Hugh Lauder
Professor of Education and Political Economy, University of Bath

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Realist Inquiry in Social Science: Scientific Realism

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ISBN: 9781446258859
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