Reflections from Research Practice
Realism and its reality, coming to know this, and working out its mechanisms of socio-material change
Keywords:realism, ontology, explanation, change
Scientific and Critical Realism attracts increasing attention as a new paradigm of explanation, for many empirical knowledge disciplines. This new approach to explaining our social and material worlds is underpinned by its ‘depth ontology’, encompassing the reality of our senses to the more meta-physical.
In this article we introduce and explore this ‘depth ontology’, through rich illustration of these alternative ideas about reality in context of our everyday and early career research experiences. We explain and clarify the realist compromise - between its positivist and constructivist ancestry. We then trace the flow of these philosophical premises into conceptual variation evident around the realist sense of ‘mechanism’, in current evaluation research literature.
To further clarify its possible meanings, this synthesis contextualises past and current realist thinking in light of historical ideas of change from Aristotle and Plato, as improvement and degeneration. This article offers a new view on realism and its foundations then, to aid readers’ own understandings and explorations of the natural and social reasons for existence and its changes, sitting in the depths of the universe of the realist.
Copyright (c) 2022 Huayi Huang
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY), which permits use and redistribution of the work provided that the original author and source are credited, a link to the license is included, and an indication of changes which were made. Third-party users may not apply legal terms or technological measures to the published article which legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
If accepted for publication authors’ work will be made open access and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license unless previously agreed with Exchanges’ Editor-in-Chief prior to submission.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. (see: The Effect of Open Access)