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Steven Earnshaw

science in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries queries exactly what kind of knowledge science can give us, and what status it can have relative to other kinds of knowledge. Nevertheless, a strand of philosophy has emerged called ‘critical realism’. This is most closely associated with the British philosopher Roy Bhaskar, and is a response to the relativism of postmodernism and poststructuralist critiques, for critical realism believes that we can improve our knowledge rather than just construct different views. It asserts that there is a mind-independent world

in Beginning realism
Steven Earnshaw

because man is always in context – man’s ‘ontological being’ cannot be separated from his ‘social and historical environment’ ( 1963 : 19). For Lukács, therefore, the promotion of modernist literature at the expense of realist literature also denies the way in which realism understands the relationship between individuals and the totality of society. Lukács argued that the best kind of critique available from literature was that presented by what he called bourgeois critical realism. Although the ultimate aim for literature should be socialist realism, it was not in

in Beginning realism
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The opposition of structure and agency
Peter J. Martin and Alex Dennis

on to the idea that there must be social ‘structures’, independent of actual people and constraining them. Such a conception of structural effects underlies, for example, Bhaskar’s ‘critical realism’: The relations into which people enter pre-exist the individuals who enter into them, and those whose activity reproduces or transforms them; so they are themselves structures. And it is to these structures of social relations that realism directs our attention – both as the explanatory key to understanding social events and trends and as the focus of

in Human agents and social structures
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Thomas Osborne

autonomy is clearly different from this again. His is a form of critical realism when it comes to the question of autonomy. Modernist artists, for instance, really are autonomous in some respects. But this autonomy is also problematic and illusory: not in Adorno’s sense, not because it is compromised by its opposite and the existence of what it rejects – the culture industries in his case. Rather, autonomy is problematic and illusory for Bourdieu because it sublimates itself away from the social world. For Bourdieu, autonomy is always the resultant of a social operation

in The structure of modern cultural theory