Without foundation or neutral standpoint: using immanent critique to guide a literature review

K. Robert Isaksen
2018 Journal of Critical Realism  
Literature reviews have traditionally been a simple exercise in reporting the current relevant research, both to provide an overview of the current status of the field, and perhaps to draw attention to controversies. From the perspective of positivist research traditions, it was important to neutrally report all the relevant research, which was assumed to be foundational. In this article, written for the Applied Critical Realism special issue of Journal of Critical Realism, I use my own
more » ... to illustrate how a literature review might look if it were non-foundational and guided by the principles of immanent critique. Immanent critique is central to Bhaskar's philosophical methodology but has not been much applied in critical realist empirical research. Following a brief introduction to immanent critique, its history and relation to other ways of grounding knowledge, an excerpt from a literature review is used as backdrop for an extended discussion about various potential applications, and implications, of immanent critique in social research. Immanent critique as method can take the form of noting theory-theory, theorypractice, and/or theory-data inconsistencies. Immanent critique as grounds for knowledge provides the possibility for knowledge and rational theory choice despite a rejection of foundationalism and of neutral standpoints. As a method by which to structure a literature review, immanent critique provides an excellent way to better understand the relevant literature, to formulate justifiable opinions about it, and to guide research questions. KEYWORDS Immanent critique; critical realist research; methodology; standpoint; foundation; rational theory choice Immanent critique When Roy Bhaskar first introduced his philosophical methodology, it was as a form of transcendental argument (Bhaskar 1975a; Bhaskar [1975b Bhaskar [ ] 2008 . Later he came to situate this form of argument within the confines of an immanent critique (Bhaskar [1986 (Bhaskar [ ] 2009 Laclau and Bhaskar 1998; Bhaskar and Callinicos 2003) and most recently immanent critique has taken stage front and centre as his methodology of choice (Bhaskar 2016). Immanent critique is seen as the most effective way to persuade someone of a competing perspective because you are arguing from their stated or implicit
doi:10.1080/14767430.2018.1427180 fatcat:bwd5mfn34ze6jivcfqarqdijba