Theories of discourse bring to realism new ideas about how knowledge develops and how representations of reality are influenced. We gain an understanding of the conceptual aspect of social life and the processes by which meaning is produced. This collection reflects the growing interest realist critics have shown towards forms of discourse theory and deconstruction. The diverse range of contributions address such issues as the work of Derrida and deconstruction, discourse theory, Eurocentrism and poststructuralism. What unites all of the contributions is a sense that it is essential to provide a realist alternative to the hitherto dominance of social constructionism, hermeneutics and postmodernism, over many of the issues discussed. By developing a realist perspective the different authors attempt to embed discourse within the structured nature of the reality of the world. Realism can situate language, discourse and ideology within context specific, or 'causally efficacious' circumstances. Realism can help to uncover issues of power, representation, and subjectivity and how discursive and other social practices produce real effects. This can help us understand the manner in which (non-discursive) social structures are reproduced through various forms of ideology and discourse. And by knowing this, we can start to address questions concerning human emancipation and how the world is to be transformed.
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 www.centreforcriticalrealism.com.