ICT Unbounded, Social Impact of Bright ICT Adoption. One thread of this critique can be seen as coalescing around an alternative paradigm: interpretivism, which takes “the view that ‘reality’ is not objective and exterior, but is socially constructed and given meaning by people in their daily interactions with others … [it] focuses on the ways that people make sense of the world especially through sharing their experiences with others via the medium of language.” (Easterby‐Smith et al., 2015, p. 52). Empirical method needs philosophy. Realist ontologies (assumptions about the nature … Combining Pragmatism and Critical Realism in ICT4D Research: An e-Resilience Case Example. Critical Realism by Andrew Withell 1. “A central idea of Critical Realism is that natural (physical and biological) and social (sociological) reality should be understood as an open stratified [layered] system of objects with causal powers [making things happen]” (Morton, 2006). Alternatively, approaches that are presented as critical realist have been developed. Recognition of this continues to grow in response to the intractable nature of the most burdensome of health and social challenges. During 2000 to 2005, there were 371 publications mentioning the term with 22 mentioning it in the title; during 2006 to 2011, there were 2690 and 129; and during 2012 to 2017, there were 5640 and 275 (Google Scholar: English language only; excluding patents and citations). Retroduction—literally meaning leading backwards—is a “… mode of inference in which events are explained by postulating (and identifying) mechanisms which are capable of producing them …” (Sayer, 1992, p. 107). Examples of critical realism in a sentence, how to use it. This article explores the ontological and epistemological tenets of critical realism and examines the applic … Critical realism is a philosophical approach to understanding science developed by Roy Bhaskar (1944–2014). So, even basic notions relating to the nature of evidence‐based practice, the body, disease, randomized trials, and qualitative research can be understood in new ways (Pawson and Tilley 1997; Sayer 2000; Forbes and Wainwright 2001; Williams 2003; Connelly 2004). and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. In any case, metatheory is not popular in the current climate of practice-turn thinking (for critical scholars) and methods-driven research (for less critical ones). Facilitators of prenatal care in an exemplar urban clinic. Rejecting methodological individualism as naive and reductionist allows CR to encompass complex emergence as a real entity in a realistic account of causation (Byrne, 1998). There are three strata (or layers), according to the theory: the Real, the Actual, and the Empirical. This has been advanced by the growing use of Amartya Sen's work—with its focus on justice (Sen, 2009)—within ICT4D and by the growing interest in ethics and social justice within wider development (Oosterlaken, 2015). This in turn perpetuates the lack of culture and capabilities. But impossible to full Number of times cited according to CrossRef: Clarifying Key Terms and Philosophical Foundations of Transaction Cost Economics. Alongside generic concerns about the limitations imposed by this philosophical duopoly, each of these paradigms individually has a number of limitations that constrain ICT4D research. Emancipatory Social Practice. This has likely arisen to reflect the growing role of ICTs in politics in developing countries (eg, Breuer & Welp, By continuing to browse this site, you agree to its use of cookies as described in our, orcid.org/http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4551-2208, orcid.org/http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5859-4425, I have read and accept the Wiley Online Library Terms and Conditions of Use, Critical realism, research techniques, and research designs, Studying organizations using critical realism: A practical guide, Telecentres use in rural communities and women empowerment: case of Western Cape, Information and communication technologies for development: ICT4D 2017, How should technology‐mediated organizational change be explained? For an ICT4D‐oriented application of retrodiction, see Heeks and Ospina (2018). In each part I give examples and show that mixed-methods research has good potential in conjunction with realist underpinnings. Of course, the causality exposed by critical realism is not, as noted, a universal. ). It therefore functions at a level similar to that occupied by such philosophies as Positivism and Interpretivism. Data justice for development: What would it mean? Positivist studies like these have been subject to a number of criticisms; for example, demonstrations that supposedly objective empirical methods were in practice subject to social influence and bias (Kanellis & Papadopoulos, 2009). His main research interests are B2B markets and marketing, organisational and managerial behaviour, strategic practices, critical realism and case teaching methods. 2002), it is often the task of researchers to develop methodological approaches that fit their situation by selecting and adapting methods that align the philosophical tenets of CR with the substantive focus of inquiry (Yeung 1997). Identifying Generative Mechanisms in a Mobile Health (mHealth) Project in Sierra Leone: A Critical Realist Framework for Retroduction. However, if events and mechanisms often exceed our empirical grasp, how can we know whether our research methods reveal them – or produce them (Kemp and Holmwood 2003)? Background: Healthcare research acknowledges a range of paradigms, including postpositivism and critical realist methodologies. Many of these challenges reflect the relative shortage of detailed and clear application of critical realism to health and social issues. Yet, researchers trained either in philosophy or method must cross these traditional boundaries to fairly and coherently express numerous philosophical tenets in the nuts‐and‐bolts of methods. But at a deeper level, one might argue that the foundations of rights, ethics, and justice in the ICT4D field lie within the structures of society: that these all derive from and are largely determined by social structures (Heeks & Renken, 2018). 1, pp. Where critical realism differs from all the other middle ground philosophies therefore, and what acts as the central reasoning for adoption in this mixed methods research, is that it places a focus on further understanding and He has a PhD in Indian IT industry development, directs the MSc programme in ICTs for Development, and runs the ICT for Development blog: http://ict4dblog.wordpress.com. While frameworks for research based on critical realism have been developed (Pawson and Tilley 1997; Danermark et al. Both positivism and critical realism address this, but critical realism has an arguable additional value because its iterative retroduction forces ongoing contemplation and critique of the relation between causes and effects. Using realist methodology to evaluate complex interventions in nursing: A scoping review. “The key idea of positivism is that the social world exists externally, and that its properties can be measured through objective methods rather than being inferred subjectively through sensation, reflection or intuition.” (Easterby‐Smith, Thorpe, & Jackson, 2015, p. 51). Moving from conceptual ambiguity to knowledgeable action: using a critical realist approach to studying moral distress. Explaining human change: On generative mechanisms in social work practice, Critical realism, sociology and health inequalities: Social class as a generative mechanism and its media of enactment, Beyond meaning, discourse and the empirical world: Critical realist reflections on health. Quantitative 6. Emphasis on Causality 3. Critical realism is therefore particularly appropriate as a foundation to support the growing agenda for politics‐oriented research in ICT4D. Importantly, for nursing and health sciences research, although generative mechanisms are embedded within social structures and are contextually contingent, they always work through people’s actions (Moren and Blom 2003). In contrast, some forms of idealism assert that no world exists apart from mind-dependent ideas and some forms of skepticism say we cannot trust our senses. The world as we know and understand it is constructed from our perspectives and experiences, through what is 'observable'. More generally, critical realism's mandated reflexivity forces ongoing introspection about the nature of the research process and its overall rigour including biases of context, respondents, and researcher. The congruence of critical realism can therefore be argued, given its fit with at least these main goals of development. Illustration of direct realism and critical realism[3] Critical realists, on … Like interpretivism, its epistemology recognises observation and research to be value laden: shaped by experience and context. This finds that interpretivist approaches (typically understood as a subjective worldview) and positivist approaches (typically understood as an objective worldview) dominate the current body of ICT4D research (Gomez & Day, 2013; Walsham & Sahay, 2006). Critical realism can therefore engage with one of the main tensions in ICT4D research: between difference and commonality (Burrell & Toyama, 2009). “Although realism in some form or other is the tacit philosophy of many working scientists, and is endorsed by the majority of professional philosophers of science, it does not figure prominently in methodological discussions and research practice in the social sciences.” Haig and Evers, Realist Inquiry in Social Science (2016, p. ix). Critical realism, unlike other research paradigms, has particular features that facilitate political research. Emancipatory Social Practice. Hurrell, S. A. But that interest will only sustain if ICT4D research can meet the standards of those journals. He says that world poses two reality i.e. With the publication of papers in this edition – and in future editions, as we were fortunate to have attracted so many fine submissions for this special edition – will begin to correct that application shortage. Second, specific value in addressing current trends in ICT4D research: The growing search for causal links between “ICT” and “D,” and the political and ethical turns in ICT4D that are spurring researchers to engage more with issues of power, rights, and justice. In other words, ‘an empirical connection in itself cannot identify the active mechanism or…the interaction of the forces behind an observed pattern’ (Danermark et al. Within the domain of the empirical sit human experiences and observations of the events generated within the actual. Since these earlier criticisms, there has been some improvement, but this remains a significant shortcoming (Andersson & Hatakka, 2013). Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. This helps explain features already noted: the relative lack of use of theory and of overt research paradigms within ICT4D research. An example of an optical illusion below can be used to illustrate the difference between direct and critical realism. It encompasses difference: reflecting the contingent and contextualised link between cause and effect seen in ICT4D practice and legitimising the views of different stakeholders on ICT4D phenomena. By contrast, critical realism's methodological pluralism and triangulation force multiple viewpoints and data sources and methods to be incorporated. But the role of ICT4D goes beyond the unspecific notion of practice. Obgleich er einige Gemeinsamkeiten mit der Position des Kritischen Realismus aufweist, ist der Critical Realism ein eigener, enger bestimmter … Richard Heeks is the Chair in Development Informatics at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester; and the Director of the Centre for Development Informatics (http://www.cdi.manchester.ac.uk). 9) Critical realism takes a pluralistic approach to research methods. The focus on critical realism was a useful adjunct for my own research and I would have no hesitation in recommending this to students also interested in taking a critical realism approach to qualitative research projects. The strengths of critical realism is often described in contrast to the paradigms of positivism and interpretivism. Steve Vincent Joe O'Mahoney. 2002). This is the position of philosophical realism: the view that whatever we perceive is real, truly out there. Putting Critical Realism to Work in Business Relationship Research Abstract Within the IMP, Critical Realism is emerging as a philosophical position of choice for the study of business relationships as evidenced by the growing number of papers which purport to take this position. This is a familiar problem, found in social science generally (Layder, 1985) as well as arising within ICT4D and related fields (Heeks & Renken, 2018). However, the tenets of critical realism are mainly concerned with the ontological and epistemological basis of scientific inquiry. Critical realism, unlike other research paradigms, has particular features that facilitate political research. It is, rather, a meta-theoretical position: a reflexive philosophical stance concerned with providing a philosophically … Furthermore, critical realists accept the possibility of complex causality, meaning that mechanisms do not always play out as the same actual events or empirically observable experiences (Bergene 2007; Clark et al. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, From a positivist perspective, critical realism is criticised due to its lack of objectivity; the limitations it places on the generalisation of findings; and the “provisional, fallible, incomplete, and extendable” nature of its explanations (Dobson, 2009:808). (2013, p. 27) argue that the additional concerns of ICT4D, relating to both practice and change, create a problem: “the [ICT4D] research community is not unified on how to harmonize the difficult and sometimes competing goals of conducting experiments, producing social change, and studying the phenomena of ICT use in developing countries.” Critical realism emerges as a basis for this harmonisation, given that it encompasses research, practice, and developmental social change. Chapter 13 | Critical Realism and Qualitative Research: An Introductory Overview Previous Next. Molecular Logic and Computational Synthetic Biology. The Sage handbook of organizational research, Critical intent & practice in ICT4D: a typology of ICT4D initiatives, Method in social science: A realist approach, Critical realism and the limits to critical social science, Reconsidering ICT for development research: Critical realism, empowerment, and the limitations of current research, Enhancing human resource development through ICT, Testable theory development for small‐n studies: Critical realism and middle‐range theory, Agency and social networks: Strategies of action in a social structure of position, opposition, and opportunity, A brief critique of the standard view of ICT4D, Between knowledge and politics: Three faces of policy analysis, Desperately seeking systems thinking in ICT4D, Foreword: Special issue on information systems in developing countries, Research on information systems in developing countries: current landscape and future prospects, Taking critical ontology seriously: Implications for political science methodology, Handbook of research methods and applications in political science, Causal explanation in the coordinating process: A critical realist case study of federated IT governance structures, Principles for conducting critical realist case study research in information systems, Methodological implications of critical realism for mixed‐methods research. Not to say that critical realism has been completely ignored in ICT4D (eg, Njihia & Merali, 2013), but it has been almost completely ignored. 56-64. In some ways, then, retroduction is an inductive‐type approach within critical realism; retrodiction a deductive‐type approach. 's words, critical realism: - "defends a strongly realist ontology that there is an existing, causally efficacious, world independent of our knowledge. A potential danger of taking a more political perspective on ICT4D is that research may be overly structuralist: focusing only on social structures of power and ignoring the agency of individual and collective human actors. An example of its use in practice is presented using a case study of the development of a buyer–seller relationship after the installation of a new MIS system. The 'real' can not be observed and exists independent from human perceptions, theories, and constructions. This is a noteworthy failing as in practice social researchers have plenty of … As an ICT4D example, Alao, Lwoga, and Chigona (2017) use an interpretive approach to understand how telecentre use impacts empowerment of women in South Africa. One outcome—among others—was a revisiting of the realist paradigm, and its development into a particular body of philosophical thought that has come to be known as “critical realism” (eg, Bhaskar, 1975; Bhaskar, 1979). Within this body of work, explicit consideration of research philosophy generally and of specific research paradigms is rare (Gomez & Day, 2013). For example, it is argued that the tenets of critical realism offer a strong platform for mixed method research (Lipscomb 2008) and comparative case study (Bergene 2007). As discussed above, critical realism is values driven and orients not only towards understanding how structures and mechanisms constrain development but also towards interventions that bring about emancipatory change. INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AND CRITICAL REALISM – THE EXAMPLE OF DISABILITY RESEARCH Interdisciplinary research and its problem is an issue which is characterised by conceptual unclearness and mess. The challenge for critical realists is then to devise research strategies that support identification and analysis of generative mechanisms, while avoiding such pitfalls as the epistemic fallacy. TAPUPASM as an approach to rigour in critical realist research. An example ICT4D‐related mechanism would be an information infrastructure of technology and people in a country that attracts digital service providers, who create new services and thus attract more users, thereby strengthening the information infrastructure and creating a virtuous circle (Bygstad & Munkvold, 2011). The philosopher David Hume described a sceptical and empirically reductionist theory of causation in the 18th century, which has until now been the dominant empiricist viewpoint. They assume that empowerment is a subjective phenomenon, understood through the meaning that individual women ascribe to it. Critical realism (herein CR) is a movement which began in British philosophy and sociology following the founding work of Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer and others. Supporting communication for people with aphasia in stroke rehabilitation: transfer of training in a multidisciplinary stroke team. And, as again noted above, its contingent approach to causality provides a better reflection of the varied cause‐effect patterns seen in ICT4D in practice. In: Choudrie J., Islam M., Wahid F., Bass J., Priyatma J. Research paradigms therefore matter because they shape the researcher's view of the world; the type of research questions that can be answered; the methodologies to be adopted; the way that findings are presented; the ability to generalise; etc (Hughes & Sharrock, 1997). It starts with a characterization of positivism, Interpretivism and realism; and links these theories to the foundation of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Alongside this epistemological criticism about knowledge formation were deeper ontological challenges to positivism that argued against the existence of any objective reality. Archer (2003, 2) argues that structure and agency are ‘distinct strata of reality, as the bearers of quite different properties and powers’ and calls for attention to the interplay between these two strata. The exact relation of critical realism to ethics and justice is debated (Norrie, 2010; Sayer, 1997). ICT4D is not such a field: from its very definition, it is oriented to practice, and it centres around ICT‐based interventions in developing countries (Marathe, Chandra, Kameswaran, Kano, & Ahmed, 2016). We can understand this as a rolling iteration between structure and agency, between the real and the actual. Critical realism also claims that the mind-independent nature of reality applies not only to physical dimensions (such as the chair beneath you or car driving towards you) but also to social and cultural aspects (8). what is created is always a new synthesis of the new and old, of the manifest and un-manifest, of the ephemeral and the eternal. Bringing critical realism to nursing practice: Roy Bhaskar's contribution. Efforts to understand complex outcomes, trends, or issues must consistently address how much complexity is too much complexity given the constraints of what is currently possible, feasible, and acceptable. It represents a combination of views that contrast with those associated with traditional positivist and interpretivist positions 19,20,21]. Although potentially a one‐time movement, in practice, retroduction is more generally understood as part of an iterative cycle in which mechanisms are postulated from existing data, evidenced or otherwise through gathering of new data, and supported or revised or rejected iteratively during the analysis of that data (Easton, 2010). In this section, we will look at the potential value that critical realism can bring to ICT4D research—largely following the structure of the previous section—and will also acknowledge some challenges. In this chapter I list If they First, they make the point that critical realists want to bring ontology back into social theory as they feat that social scientists have forgotten to talk about it. Seeking the new and the critical in critical realism: Déjà vu? Applying critical realism in qualitative research: Methodology meets method. But this is inherently not so (Njihia & Merali, 2013). Although rarely made explicit, analysis has been undertaken to infer the paradigms being used. While the majority of scholars in IR probably do support a mixed methods approach, the justification for this is often not explicitly made (see Helen Louise Turton’s post ‘International Relations is not an American Discipline (Well, Maybe it is a Little)’ on The Disorder of Things ). It supports the recent and growing search for causality within ICT4D. Quantitative 6. 6—PART I A REALIST STANCE FOR QUALITATIVE RESEARCH Campbell (2002) argued that “all scientists are epistemological constructivists and relativists” in the sense that they believe that both the ontological world and the worlds of ideology, values, etc. Abduction has an uncertain relation to critical realism and retroduction. And it supports the “ethical turn” in ICT4D: seeking the outcome of a more just and equitable society and necessitating investigation of the social structures that underpin rights, ethics, and justice. He has published in Industrial Marketing Management, the Using the choice framework to operationalise the capability approach to development, Towards self‐emancipation in ICT for development research, The emancipation of the researcher as part of information and communication technology for development work in deep rural South Africa, In search of missing pieces: a re‐examination of trends in ICTD research, Proceedings of the eighth international conference on information and communication technologies and development, Progress towards resolving the measurement link between ICT and poverty reduction, Impact of information society research in the Global South, Re‐establishing the real: Critical realism and information systems, Social theory and philosophy for information systems, Real‐izing information systems: Critical realism as an underpinning philosophy for information systems, Towards a theoretical framework on ethical practice in ICT4D programmes, Role of power in shaping participatory design processes: the case of collaborative system design, Understanding empowerment through technology driven power structures, Qualitative research in information systems, Special issue call for papers: Critical perspectives on information systems and openness: Emerging discourses, meanings, models and implications, The broader context for ICT4D projects: A morphogenetic analysis, Dialectic and difference: Dialectical critical realism and the grounds of justice, Inserting technology in the relational ontology of Sen's capability approach, The international encyclopedia of digital communication and society, After international relations: Critical realism and the (re) construction of world politics, Importance of development context in ICT4D projects: A study of computerization of land records in India, Getting your hands dirty: Critical action research in a state agency. ADAPT Centre, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. But it will present an important barrier for other types of ICT4D researchers. In: The SAGE Handbook of ... Show page numbers . The four modes of reasoning used most in social research are induction, deduction, abduction, and We can, nevertheless, propose some particular methodological values for ICT4D research from critical realism. New conceptualizations built on philosophical foundations can offer fresh lenses that enhance capacity to understand facets of a problem. Learn more. This is particularly timely because of its relevance to what we might call the “ethical turn” in ICT4D. Thus, any experience is shaped by the context of that experience: it is not objective but is contingent and transient. The Emperical 8.2. It’s not … Dodson et al. We then compare these with the features of ICT4D research looking for both the generic, enduring value of critical realism in ICT4D research, and also for specific fit with current trends in the field. From an interpretive perspective, it is the realism of critical realism that is misguided. Data triangulation is most often operationalised by gathering data from different stakeholders, thus allowing for multiple perspectives and intersubjective insights into the events of the actual. 2008; Lipscomb 2010). Incorporation of both structure and agency to study power can be achieved by adoption of particular theoretical frames (eg, Lukes, 1977; Stevenson & Greenberg, 2000). Critical realism, a philosophical framework originally developed by Roy Bhaskar in the 1970s, represents a relatively new approach to research generally and to nursing research in particular. Learn about our remote access options, Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. Messages from Space: An Exploration of the Relationship between Hospital Birth Environments and Midwifery Practice. †† This is in some ways the opposite of retroduction since it starts in the real and then seeks to match proposed mechanisms to what is observed in the empirical. For example, Bhaskar points to the ‘epistemic fallacy’ that arises from the conflation of the epistemological (what is or can be known about a phenomenon) with the ontological (the entirety of a phenomenon). Critical realism regards structure and agency as “existentially interdependent but essentially distinct” (Bhaskar, 1986, p. 123) with—as noted above—one of the clearest interpretations being provided by Margaret Archer's work on morphogenesis. We outlined the specific features of critical realism—ontological, epistemological, methodological, and axiological—which particularly differentiate it from other paradigms such as positivism and interpretivism. The advantages of critical realism over rival metatheoretical positions, including empiricism, social constructionism, neo-Kantianism and hermeneutics, is shown, demonstrating in particular what is called the ‘‘double-inclusiveness’’ of critical realism. Thus, in the face of such perils, critical realist philosophy has borne new and alternative ways of seeing, questioning, and researching (Pawson and Tilley 1997; Sayer 2000). These, and other, criticisms of interpretivist and positivist approaches—which we sometimes half‐jokingly sum up by saying that positivism is useful but not true and interpretivism is true but not useful—led a number of scholars to search for a “third way” (Allen, Brown, Karanasios, & Norman. The second timely value of critical realism is its relevance to what we might call the “political turn” in ICT4D. In so doing, it may be able to improve rigour and mitigate biases. If that argument is accepted, then critical realism becomes uniquely appropriate for work on ICT4D and ethics given its combined desire to both understand and progressively change the social structures that envelop ICT4D. There is therefore a danger that critical realism might be seen as structuralist: focusing on social structures as explanations and ignoring or downplaying the role of human agency. We concisely review the main features of critical realism: its ontological realism combined with epistemological relativism; its iterative, pluralist, and reflexive methodology; and its emancipatory values. Such a combination enables the utilisation of various theoretical frames within ICT4D; frames that themselves integrate common mechanisms with contextual difference. Dr. O’Mahoney is particularly interested in how to put critical realism into practice and how critical realism impacts the way we do research. Alongside the general value of explicit use of any research paradigm, we argue two particular types of value of critical realism for ICT4D research. Instead, it will help explain the mechanisms by which ICTs alleviate poverty in some circumstances but, equally, help analyse why these mechanisms in other cases do not operate. In turn, though, interpretivist studies like this have been criticised, for example, by those who saw interpretivism as failing to provide causal and generalisable explanations of social phenomena (Bevir & Rhodes, 2005; Smith, 2005). Ict4D field research ( Angus et al is contained within the actual presented as critical have. Associated with traditional positivist and interpretivist positions [ 19, 20, 21 ] will sustain... Ontology: what the paradigm does and does not value in ICT4D research community to take actions that this... Provides principles that can potentially be embedded in methods but do not see and. 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