Realist Biography and European Policy

Realist Biography and European Policy: An Innovative Approach to European Policy Studies

Jeffrey David Turk
Adam Mrozowicki
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Realist Biography and European Policy
    Book Description:

    The method of biographical story-telling applied to newly emerging fields of research. Realist Biography and European Policy is the first concerted attempt to integrate the separate strands of (critical) realism as a developed philosophy for social science with biographical narrative methods as a concrete methodological approach. The main goal is to demonstrate that the combination of critical realism and biographical methods is not only possible, but it is exceptionally well suited for the exploration of newly emerging research fields within European policy studies. This volume offers new insights to and is an indispensable reference for researchers in search of solid underpinnings for their own empirical research. Foreword by Miriam Kennet, Director of the Green Economics Institute, Founder and Editor of the International Journal of Green Economics.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-162-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. 5-8)

    I am very delighted to be able to write the foreword to this very timely and fascinating book at a time when its never been more pressing to understand how European Policy is made and at a time of the Euro’s worst crisis in its history unfolding. This book brings together a remarkable group of cutting edge thinkers and their analytical tools. Its method can reveal so much more of what matters to people.

    I became involved in this project from very early on in working with Jeff Turk when trying to choose a methodology for green economics. Jeff contributed...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-9)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. 10-10)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. 10-10)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 11-12)
  7. 1. Introduction: the Need for Realist Biography in European Policy Studies
    (pp. 13-42)
    Adam Mrozowicki, Jeffrey David Turk and Markieta Domecka

    This introductory chapter discusses the motivation for and use of realist biography in European policy studies, laying out the general framework for the rest of the book. It provides an introductory melding of the ideas of some of the key proponents of Critical Realism/Realist Social Theory and biographical methods and demonstrates how they can be developed leading to a toolbox for practical research in European policy studies and in the social sciences more generally. Both biographical methodology, as advanced by Schütze (1983) and Rosenthal (1995), and critical realism, in particular its variety proposed by Archer (2007), share common roots in...

  8. 2. Realism and Social Research: A Morphogenetic Approach
    (pp. 43-62)
    Bob Carter

    Debates about the future of social science, and the purpose and relevance of social research, have intensified over the last decade or so (see, for example, Savage and Burrows, 2007; Latour 2007; 2010; Osborne and Rose, 2008). These debates have been driven by several developments, not necessarily related. Firstly, one of the consequences of the putative cultural and linguistic turns in social thought has been an elevation of the discursive and a corresponding inattention to the place and role of structured social relations in social research. Narratives, meanings, and interpretations remain key elements in any account of the social world...

  9. 3. Biography-using Research (BNIM), Sostris, Institutional Regimes, and Critical Psycho-Societal Realism
    (pp. 63-92)
    Tom Wengraf and Prue Chamberlayne

    Roy Bhaskar, the founder of Critical Realism, declared firmly that for critical realists, the accounts of actors form the starting point of CR inquiry:

    … in contrast to the hermeneutical perspective… actors’ accounts [and deliberations, TW] are both corrigible and limited by the existence of unacknowledged conditions, unintended consequences, tacit skills andunconscious motivations; but in opposition to the positivist view, actors’ accounts form the indispensable starting point of social inquiry. (Bhaskar, 1998: xvi,Italics and material in square brackets added TW).

    On the other hand, though indispensable, such life-stories (autobiographical accounts) are starting points, not finishing points. For Critical...

  10. 4. Biographical Costs of Transnational Mobility in the European Space
    (pp. 93-114)
    Antonella Spanò, Elisabetta Perone and Markieta Domecka

    There are some paradoxes connected with the processes of transnational mobility in Europe. On the one hand, they are actively promoted by the European bodies according to the logic of open European opportunity structure and, on the other hand, they lead to high biographical costs, which often may be underestimated. There are various types of biographical conditions leading to the decision of moving abroad; it could be the search for self-development and self-expression, transcending the ascribed gender roles, professional advancement, escaping financial difficulties or traumatic family situations, desire to live with a partner coming from a different country and many...

  11. 5. Biographical Approach in the Study of Identities of Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe
    (pp. 115-140)
    Lyudmila Nurse

    The focus of this chapter is the application of principles of sociological realism to the analysis of biographical narratives in the Eastern European context, particularly in what could be described as an “emergent” region. The use of biographical methods allows us to understand how personal biographies of Eastern Europeans intersect with the larger historical changes of the region’s borders and political and social institutions and helps us to contextualise the interpretation of the conjunctions between the emerging new societal structures and individual lives and narratives.

    Realism’s “open-endedness” as regards choice of research methods as is mentioned in Carter’s chapter (Carter,...

  12. 6. Social Dialogue as a European Social Field: Setting up a “Critical Realist” Explanatory Framework of the Practices of the European Works Councils in Multinationals in Europe
    (pp. 141-166)
    Valeria Pulignano and Norbert Kluge

    In this chapter we refer to the broadly shared concept in social science of employee involvement as the basis for the creation of a socially-controlled market economy. In doing so we use a broadly realist framework in probing the social-economic phenomenon of employee involvement through interviews with the various participants involved (Edwards, 2005; Fleetwood, 2011). The concept of employee involvement is common to many different discipline areas in social science. Despite using the same terminology, the meaning and form that employee involvement takes varies considerably depending on the discipline. On the one hand, it could relate to trade union representation...

  13. 7. Biographies and the Drafting of EU Environmental Policy in an Anthropological Framework
    (pp. 167-190)
    Tatiana Bajuk Senčar and Jeffrey David Turk

    In this chapter we discuss our experiences using biographical interviews during field research linked to a recently completed research project, the Anthropology of European Integration. This interdisciplinary project that drew on the overlapping concerns of critical realism and anthropology was focused on an analysis of the “integration experiences” of the first generation of Slovene EU officials, or Eurocrats, working in the institutions associated with the European Union in Brussels. We focus on a small yet strategic group of Slovenian “national Eurocrats” with whom we conducted interviews in Brussels from 2008 to 2010. By national Eurocrats we are referring to those...

  14. 8. Linking Structural and Agential Powers: A Realist Approach to Biographies, Careers and Reflexivity
    (pp. 191-214)
    Markieta Domecka and Adam Mrozowicki

    The discussion on the consequences of accelerated changes in the sphere of work for career patterns belongs to the central topics of the contemporary sociology of work. It is suggested that secure, coherent and linear occupational careers might be less and less available option in societies of “late”, “radicalized”, or “fluid” modernity (Bauman, 1999; sennett, 2006). Existing research on occupational careers has been focused on testing these theoretical assertions (Gold and Fraser, 2002, Blockerhurst 2003; Fenton and Dermont, 2005). The goal of this article is different. it draws on the ongoing debate on agency-structure relations (Archer, 2003; Mouzelis, 1995) to...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 215-220)
  16. Index
    (pp. 221-228)