By Andrew Sayer
Realism and Social technology bargains the reader an authoritative and compelling consultant to serious realism and its implications for social thought and for the perform of social technological know-how. It deals an alternate either to ways that are overly convinced concerning the threat of a winning social technological know-how and people that are defeatist approximately any risk of growth in realizing the social international. Written by means of one of many prime social theorists within the box, it demonstrates the virtues of severe realism for idea and empirical study in social technology, and gives a serious engagement with best non-realist ways.
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Extra resources for Realism and Social Science
However, he accepts as generally positive the postmodernist emphasis on the diversity of the world and the plurality of perspectives on it, and on the diYculty of obtaining reliable knowledge. I also have a suspicion of those modernist accounts of the social world – from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum – which reduce it to a few basic structures and are oblivious to the complexity, openness and ambiguity of social action. Examples which spring to mind might include the crassness of rational choice and public choice theory, or of the class reductionism of some applications of Marxism.
Consider an example, such as a discourse on health services, including terms like ‘hospitals’, ‘doctors’, ‘nurses’, ‘patients’, ‘beds’, ‘operating theatres’, etc. Each of these terms is arbitrarily related to particular referents in that the latter could always be called something else. However, this does not mean that the relationship between their referents is arbitrary, or that the relationships between the signiWeds within such a discourse are arbitrary, so that the relationship between ‘doctors’ and ‘patients’ is equivalent to that between ‘doctors’ and ‘horse-jumping’ (Giddens, 1979; Tallis, 1988).
42). As Tallis points out, for the idealist, the fact that the Inuit have many words for snow while the bushpeople of the Kalahari desert have none is merely a function of their different languages and has nothing to do with any extradiscursive reality (1998, p. 64). Similarly, for idealists, it is only in virtue of language that the boundaries of objects such as tables or liberalism differ in their clarity (Tallis, 1988). However, those who claim that reality is a discursive construct don’t believe what they say, for their practice – for example avoiding extradiscursive dangers, such as oncoming cars – shows that they cannot make the world a slave to their discourses (O’Neill, 1995).
Realism and Social Science by Andrew Sayer