18-20 April 2018 | University of Edinburgh

Hosted by Critical Realism and Social Work Research SIG


Monica Kjørstad (Oslo and Akershus University College)

Elina Pekkarinen (Finnish Youth Research Network)

Following up the previous successful activities in the Special Interest Group of critical realism and social work research, this year´s over-arching conference theme has triggered us to discuss how critical realism as a theory of science might be helpful when investigating social problems of great complexity in a transitional political landscape. The holistic perspective of social work research and practice requires the ability to comprehend the stratified and complicated nature of reality. Critical realism as an ontological, epistemological and empirical framework might have a potential to study the relationship between social work and social policies and where to place our scientific focus in research and education. In that sense, critical realism´s emancipatory, interdisciplinary and dialectic ambition seems to be even more relevant at the time being, and we don´t think that it is a coincidence that there is an increasing interest in critical realism in social work research.

This year´s pre-conference will take a closer look at basic concepts in critical realism like emergence, supervenience, laminated systems and generative mechanisms in different kind of contexts and in different kind of research. We wish to discuss how critical realism may contribute to make theoretical and methodological choices in social work research.

We hope that the pre-conference will have interest for scholars using critical realism in their research projects as well as people who have an interest in knowing more about CR. You will find more information about our special interest group at the website of ESWRA. You will find the preliminary program for the 2018 pre-conference, below.


Preliminary program:

Wednesday 18. April 2018 (venue will be announced later)

09.00               Welcome and introduction to the pre-conference

09.15               The ontology and epistemology of CR - some basic concepts 

10.00              Break

10.15              The potential of Margaret Archers' theories in empirical research (Elina

                        Pekkarinen and Maria Tapola-Haapala)

11.00              Break

11.15              A critical realist perspective on the relationship between social work and social policy- some implications for research (Monica Kjørstad)

11.45              Lunch

12.45              How can mechanisms be identified? Examples of methodological steps in the study of contact family intervention (Anu-Riina Svenlin)

13.15              The ideas of realism among social work students (Mikko Mäntysaari)

13.45              Break

14.00              Paper-presentations with feed-back

15.00              What now? Future possibilities and shortcomings                                  

15.15              Pre-conference closing

If you wish to give a presentation, please submit a short abstract/summary of your work to Elina.Pekkarinen@youthresearch.fi, due February 1. Please contact Elina or Monica with any questions you might have.