Explanatory Critique And Emancipatory Movements

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Journal Of Critical Realism


Emancipatory movements need the input of a kind of social science research that requires the active participation of (and collaboration with) their participants. This is research that involves mutually reinforcing relations with the values endorsed by the movements. I illustrate this with an analysis of how the theme of the World Social Forum, 'Another world is possible', should be addressed in empirical investigations. I have, drawing upon a general model of scientific activity, defended both the cognitive legitimacy and necessity of such research. This analysis, however, dulls the significance of Bhaskar's arguments about explanatory critiques and their alleged emancipatory implications, by showing that the value judgments that are derived (ceteris paribus) from theories established under the research just referred to are already in play in mutually reinforcing relationships with the strategies that frame the research. As background to this analysis I have explored the concept of emancipation, attempting to put together Bhaskar's ideas and key ideas of the World Social Forum. Finally, I have argued that the emancipatory impulse of the sciences is furthered by taking the notion of the neutrality of science seriously.

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