Critical Realism, Feminism, and Gender: A Reader: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Critical Realism, Feminism, and Gender: A Reader

1st Edition

Edited by Michiel van Ingen, Steph Grohmann, Lena Gunnarsson


352 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138083707
pub: 2020-06-01
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In assessing the current state of feminism and gender studies, whether on a theoretical or a practical level, it has become increasingly challenging to avoid the conclusion that these fields are in a state of disarray. Indeed, feminist and gender studies discussions are beset with persistent splits and disagreements. This reader suggests that returning to, and placing centre-stage, the role of philosophy, especially critical realist philosophy of science, is invaluable for efforts that seek to overcome or mitigate the uncertainty and acrimony which have resulted from this situation. In particular, it claims that the dialectical logic which runs through critical realist philosophy is ideally suited to advancing feminist and gender studies discussions about broad ontological and epistemological questions and considerations, intersectionality, and methodology, methods, and empirical research. By bringing together four new and eight existing writings this reader provides both a focal point for renewed discussions about the potential and actual contributions of critical realist philosophy to feminism and gender studies and a timely contribution to these discussions.

Table of Contents

Making Waves, and Beyond

Michiel van Ingen, Steph Grohmann, and Lena Gunnarsson

Part 1


Michiel van Ingen, Steph Grohmann, and Lena Gunnarsson

1. Feminism, Realism, and Universalism

Tony Lawson

2. Post-structuralist and Constructivist Feminism.

Carrie Hull

3. Sex and Gender: A Critical Realist Approach

Caroline New

4. A Defence of the Category ‘Women’

Lena Gunnarsson

5. Gender Theory Non-conforming: Critical Realist Feminism, Trans Politics, and Affordance Theory

Angela Martinez Dy

Part 2


Michiel van Ingen, Steph Grohmann, and Lena Gunnarsson

6. Developing a Critical Realist Positional Approach to Intersectionality

Angela Martinez Dy, Lee Martin, and Susan Marlow

7. Agency and Ontology within Intersectional Analysis: A Critical Realist Contribution

Sue Clegg

8. Why we keep Separating the ‘Inseparable’: Dialecticising Intersectionality

Lena Gunnarsson

Part 3


Michiel van Ingen, Steph Grohmann, and Lena Gunnarsson

9. The Reality of Gender (Ideology): Using Abduction and Retroduction in Applied Critical Realist Research

Amber J. Fletcher

10. After Constructivism: Rethinking Feminist Security Studies through Interdisciplinary Research

Michiel van Ingen

11. Integrating Critical Realist and Feminist Methodologies: Ethical and Analytical Dilemmas

Sadie Parr

12. Critical Realist Discourse Analysis, Motherhood, and Gender: A Systematic Methodological Approach to Analysis

Wendy Sims-Schouten

Further Readings

About the Editors

Michiel van Ingen is an Associate Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.

Steph Grohmann is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Homeless and Inclusion Health at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Lena Gunnarsson is a Researcher and Teacher in Gender Studies at Örebro University and Lund University, Sweden.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Critical Realism

Critical Realism is a broad movement within philosophy and social science. It is a movement that began in British philosophy and sociology following the founding work of Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer and others. Critical Realism emerged from the desire to realise an adequate realist philosophy of science, social science, and of critique. Against empiricism, positivism and various idealisms (interpretivism, radical social constructionism), Critical Realism argues for the necessity of ontology. The pursuit of ontology is the attempt to understand and say something about ‘the things themselves’ and not simply about our beliefs, experiences, or our current knowledge and understanding of those things. Critical Realism also argues against the implicit ontology of the empiricists and idealists of events and regularities, reducing reality to thought, language, belief, custom, or experience. Instead Critical Realism advocates a structural realist and causal powers approach to natural and social ontology, with a focus upon social relations and process of social transformation.

Important movements within Critical Realism include the morphogenetic approach developed by Margaret Archer; Critical Realist economics developed by Tony Lawson; as well as dialectical Critical Realism (embracing being, becoming and absence) and the philosophy of metaReality (emphasising priority of the non-dual) developed by Roy Bhaskar.

For over thirty years, Routledge has been closely associated with Critical Realism and, in particular, the work of Roy Bhaskar, publishing well over fifty works in, or informed by, Critical Realism (in series including Critical Realism: Interventions; Ontological Explorations; New Studies in Critical Realism and Education). These have all now been brought together under one series dedicated to Critical Realism.

The Centre for Critical Realism is the advisory editorial board for the series. If you would like to know more about the Centre for Critical Realism, or to submit a book proposal, please visit

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Critical Theory
PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Realism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies