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An Introduction to Critical Realism, Childhood and Transformative Change

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University of Central Lancashire

Leighton Building

LE003

Preston

United Kingdom

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This one day symposium, led by Prof Priscilla Alderson, will explore the contribution of critical realism as a theoretical approach to understanding childhood, child participation and transformative change.

Critical realism helps researchers to:

  • resolve contradictions between factual and interpretive research;
  • work on interdisciplinary research and understand different sectors of practice;
  • analyse structure, agency and relationships of power;
  • combine small and large scale research;
  • analyse reality, values and transformative change.

This introductory day has developed from fortnightly seminars that the founder of critical realism, Prof Roy Bhaskar, held 2007-2014 at University College London Institute of Education, and which Priscilla Alderson has convened 2014-2018.

The day will cover basic concepts in critical realism, with time for everyone to discuss how these could be useful in their own research and practice with children and young people. Although the focus of discussion will be childhood, we invite attendance from across all fields of social research.

This free event is open to researchers, practitioners/professionals, children’s rights activists, child advocates, teachers and students of childhood and children’s rights.

No prior knowledge or preparation is needed.

Drinks are provided. Participants should bring lunch.

We invite people to bring examples for discussion from their research/practice and cake to share!


What are the aims of this event?

The event aims to:

  • Introduce critical realism (CR) to some attenders and refresh the knowledge of others;
  • Show the direct relevance of CR to all topics, theories and methods of (childhood) research, policy and practice;
  • Open opportunities to meet and discuss CR with new colleagues.

The event is aimed to equip participants with enough knowledge to enable them to use basic critical realism when doing research, literature reviews and applying research in policy and practice.

What will happen at the event?

The day will be organised into four sessions, aimed at making the event accessible to all post-graduate and academic audiences. The four sessions will cover:

  • Basic concepts in critical realism;
  • Four planes of social being;
  • Four stages of transformative change;
  • Discussions to apply the concepts to childhood research and child participation.

Prof Priscilla Alderson is one of the most widely known academics in the field of childhood studies. Her ground breaking work on ethical research with children and young children’s agency ignited a movement and has inspired generations of childhood researchers. Her work on critical realism is now at the cutting edge of theorising childhood studies. Critical realism, a philosophy of the social sciences, was founded by Prof Roy Bhaskar. Prof Alderson attended his courses on critical realism, and since he died, in 2014, she has convened his fortnightly course at University College London. He commissioned her to write two books for the Routledge series on applied critical realism. Although the books are about childhood, they aim to explain very clearly critical realist concepts that are relevant to all kinds of research and practice

Optional pre-readings

  • Alderson, P. (2016) Childhoods Real and Imagined. Routledge.
(pp 28-38, 48-70 provide a summary of how critical realism is useful in research).
  • Porpora, D. (2015) Reconstructing Sociology. Cambridge University Press.


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Date and Time

Location

University of Central Lancashire

Leighton Building

LE003

Preston

United Kingdom

View Map

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