There is a growing perception among economists that their field is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to its disregard for reality. Critical realism addresses the failure of mainstream economics to explain economic reality and proposes an alternative approach. This book debates the relative strengths and weaknesses of critical realism, in the hopes of developing a more fruitful and relevant socio-economic ontology and methodology. With contributions from some of the leading authorities in economic philosophy, it includes the work of theorists critical of (...) this approach. In the first part, contributors develop and deepen economics as a realist social theory by considering the work of individuals, various schools of thought, socio- economic phenomena and methodology. In the second part, contributors weigh the strengths and weaknesses of critical realism. (shrink)
The critical realist conception of open and closed systems is not about systems: it is about regularities in the flux of events and states of affairs. It has recently been criticised on the grounds that critical realists should take on board ideas about the general nature of systems; recognise that genuinely open social systems would be impossible; avoid polarities or dualisms where either there are event regularities and open systems, or there are no event regularities and closed systems and accept (...) partial regularities and partially open systems; and understand that orthodox economics is not based upon event regularities, laws or Humean empiricism. The objective of this paper is to ‘take stock’ of these recent criticisms. (shrink)
This paper clarifies the terms “institutions” and “social structures” and related terms “rules”, “conventions”, “norms”, “values” and “customs”. Part one explores the similarities between institutions and social structures whilst the second and third parts explore differences. Part two considers institutions, rules, habits or habitus and habituation, whilst part three critically reflects on three common conceptions of social structures. The conclusion comments upon reflexive deliberation via the internal conversation.
While powers and tendencies are among the most fundamen- tal concepts of critical realism, there are several problems with these concepts that have been ignored, avoided or glossed. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to tease out these problems and provide clarification and consistency where possible. In the first section of the paper I sketch the existing critical realist conceptualization of tendencies by identifying eight distinct moments in a causal chain, denoted tendency1 to tendency8. In section two I ask: (...) Is there a difference between powers and tendencies? The answer, controversially perhaps, is: ‘No’. In section three I ask: What is the difference between tendency1 and tendency2? The answer considers two possible arguments accounting for the difference, and initiates a re-think of some of the terminology used to discuss tendencies as distinct moments in a causal chain. I conclude by raising the possibility that tendencies or powers are not of an either/or, discrete, dichotomous or discontinuous nature, but are continuous. This raises the further possibility that powers or tendencies can come in stronger and weaker forms. (shrink)
Whilst the concept of causal powers is central to much post-positivist social science in general, and to critical realism in particular, it has not been significantly developed by critical realists since the initial work of Harré and Madden and Bhaskar in the mid-1970s. To deepen our understanding of powers we need to start with a ‘package’ of related terms. In §1 of the paper I introduce this package, clear up some terminological ambiguity and inconsistency, and focus the discussion upon things, (...) properties and powers. The real problems begin when we try to figure out how things, properties and powers relate to one another. In §2 I introduce and evaluate three possible ontologies: an ontology where powers are primary; an ontology where properties are primary; and an ontology where neither properties, powers are primary, but all emerge to form a unity. The last ontology is defended. §3 deals with ambiguities surrounding three other terms that often crop up when discussing powers, namely, dispositional properties, transfactuals and processes. The net result is a far less ambiguous concept of powers, firmly anchored in an ontology of things, properties and powers as a unity. (shrink)
Critical Realism and Marxism addresses controversial debates, revealing a potentially fruitful relationship; deepening our understanding of the social world and contibuting towards eliminating barbarism in contemporary capitalism.
This paper reports the findings of a case study of recent IACR conferences where subtle, but significant, gender differences in conference participation were observed. It goes on to use notions of gender order, agency and structure, styles and genres to explain the key causal factors that generate these differences. It concludes with some suggestions about how these gender differences could be minimised in future conferences.
Ben Fine and Dimitris Milonakis have done political economy a great service by drawing attention to the insights lost in the twists, turns and reductions in the transition from political economy to economics. These two volumes constitute a solid foundation upon which a new generation can build a political economy for the future. This review presses some of their meta-theoretical arguments a little further than they actually do in an attempt to ‘toughen-up’ the new political economy and make it more (...) able to carry the fight to economics. (shrink)
Despite inroads made by critical realism against the ‘scientific method’ in social science, the latter remains strong in subject-areas like human resource management. One argument for the alleged superiority of the scientific method (i.e. its scientificity) lies in the taken-for-granted belief that it alone can formulate empirically testable predictions. Many of those who employ the scientific method are, however, confused about the way they understand and practice prediction. This paper takes as a case study empirical research on the alleged empirical (...) association between human resource management practices and organisational performance. By unpacking the confusion surrounding the two basic notions of prediction used, it reveals what is wrong with them, why the scientific method cannot actually make accurate predictions and why, therefore, the scientific method fails to meet its own criteria for scientificity. Finally, explanation is considered in order to prevent any confusion between it and prediction and to offer what we call tendential prediction. (shrink)
Despite inroads made by critical realism against the ‘scientific method’ in social science, the latter remains strong in subject-areas like human resource management. One argument for the alleged superiority of the scientific method lies in the taken-for-granted belief that it alone can formulate empirically testable predictions. Many of those who employ the scientific method are, however, confused about the way they understand and practice prediction. This paper takes as a case study empirical research on the alleged empirical association between human (...) resource management practices and organisational performance. By unpacking the confusion surrounding the two basic notions of prediction used, it reveals what is wrong with them, why the scientific method cannot actually make accurate predictions and why, therefore, the scientific method fails to meet its own criteria for scientificity. Finally, explanation is considered in order to prevent any confusion between it and prediction and to offer what we call tendential prediction. (shrink)
An enquiry into what future labour markets might look like is, necessarily, an enquiry into what future labour market institutions might look like. Any such enquiry requires a conceptual apparatus capable of dealing with labour markets and institutions. The conceptual apparatus of orthodox labour economics is incapable of this. An alternative conceptual apparatus, the ‘socio-economics of labour markets’, augmented with critical realist metatheory, is capable of dealing with future labour markets. This claim is demonstrated via the example of future labour (...) markets based on Basic Income. (shrink)