Culture, context and society - The underexplored potential of critical realism as a philosophical framework for theory and practice

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This article explains how the meta-theoretical framework of critical realism addresses methodological issues of concern to social psychologists and social scientists. The article outlines key tenets of critical realism - its notion of the stratified nature of reality and generative mechanisms as powers in natural and social objects that cause things; its notion of knowledge of reality as stratified rather than only empirical; its acceptance of epistemological but not judgmental relativism; and its monist ontology. The article then introduces realist social theory to provide a framework for understanding the society-person connection. It explains how issues relating to culture, context, and society raised in the indigenous psychology English literature might be addressed from a critical realist perspective. Some implications arising from adopting a critical realist perspective in research practice are outlined and social psychologists and social scientists are encouraged to explore the potential of critical realism as a meta-theoretical framework and new paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-151
Number of pages11
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Context
  • Critical realism
  • Culture
  • Indigenous
  • Realist social theory
  • Structure

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