File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9802, message 47

Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 14:29:12 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: BHA: Need Help Fast


I do not know of any really detailed stuff applying CR to specific 
research methods. However, the following may be of some use.

As you may know the importance of space for society has been made 
very explicit indeed by critical realist human geographers. In 
particular a version of (originally French) 'regulation theory' has 
made critical realism its philosophical / methodological basis and is 
now influential within human geography. Bob Jessop, Jamie Peck and 
Adam Tickell have been prolific here. Peck's 1996 book, 'Work Place' 
(I don't have the full ref with me), is a manifesto for the explicit 
incorporation of space within labour market theory / research based 
upon critical realist foundations. (Alot of research goes on at 
Manchester on this I think)

The methodological section of that book draws upon Jessop's adaption
of critical realism for the purposes of research in political
economy. Jessop calls this the 'method of articulation' and has
further developed what he terms 'strategic relational' analysis -
all on critical realist foundations. However, I think that the
method  is still at too general a level for what you want - the
'method of articulation' is not much more advanced than Andrew
Sayer's general methodological recommendations.
A useful journal issue with articles by Jessop, Peck and others is

(1995) Environment and Planning A, 27.

On specifics of research practice Collier's (1994) book 'Critical 
Realism' has examples of applications in different fields that may be 
useful. (Though he inexplicably neglects to mention the human 
geograhers / regulationists).

One specific technique is econometrics. Tony Lawson is the man here 
of course ((1997) 'Economics and Reality'). I've only ever had the 
chance to glance at Lawson's book but I believe he reckons 
econometrics may be of use in giving 'stylised facts' to serve as 
premises for retroduction (a view with which the regulationists would 
agree). It is not, of course, a route to scientific laws.

As for statistical hypothesis testing, I don't remember what Lawson 
has to say, but would not the basic point be that the social 
world is not even 'stochastically' closed i.e. there are no 'actual' 
probability distrbutions in the social world because of its 
intrinsically open nature. Hence hypothesis testing bogus?  

sorry can't be more helpful,

Andrew Brown,
School of Economics,
Middlesex University,

tel 0181 362 5512

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