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Critical Realism

Critical Realism
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Author(s): Sven A. Carlsson (Lund University, Sweden)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 20
Source title: Handbook of Research on Contemporary Theoretical Models in Information Systems
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Yogesh K. Dwivedi (Swansea University, UK), Banita Lal (Nottingham Trent University, UK), Michael D. Williams (Swansea University, UK), Scott L. Schneberger (Principia College, USA) and Michael Wade (York University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-659-4.ch004

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Abstract

Different strands of non-positivistic research approaches and theories, for example, constructivism, grounded theory, and structuration theory, have gained popularity in the information systems (IS) field. Although, they are managing to overcome some problems with positivism and structural theories they are not completely without problems. This chapter puts critical realism forward as an alternative philosophical underpinning for IS research. Critical realism starts from an ontology that identifies structures and mechanisms, through which events and discourses are generated, as being fundamental to the constitution of our natural and social reality. The chapter presents critical realism and how it can be used in IS research. Examples of how critical realism have been used and can be used in research aiming at generating new IS theory, IS evaluation research, and IS design science research are provided.

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