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 ‘criticalrealism’. This is most closely associated with the British philosopher Roy Bhaskar, and is a response to the relativism of postmodernism and poststructuralist critiques, for criticalrealism believes that we can improve our knowledge rather than just construct different views. It asserts that there is a mind-independent world
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 criticalrealism. Although the ultimate aim for literature should be socialist realism, it was not in
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 ‘criticalrealism’:
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
autonomy is clearly different from this again. His is a form of criticalrealism 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