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Dictionary

CRITICAL RESEARCH

John Muncie

A generic term usually applied to any research that challenges those conventional knowledge bases and methodologies whether quantitative or qualitative – that make claims of scientific objectivity. Rather, critical social research attempts to reveal the socio-historical specificity of knowledge and to shed light on how particular knowledges reproduce structural relations of inequality and oppression. Critical social research, in the sense of offering critiques of social order, has a long history encompassing the likes of Aristotle, Socrates, Hobbes and Marx. It is currently evident in the work of a wide variety of social critics, including Marxists, feminists and poststructuralists and is often ‘hailed’ through attaching the adjective of ‘critical’ to any number of existing disciplines or methodologies, as in ‘critical sociology’, ‘critical discourse analysis’, ‘critical anthropology’, ‘critical psychiatry’, ‘critical criminology’, ‘critical ethnography’ and so on. Yet, unlike other methodological traditions, the defining characteristics of a critical approach have rarely been spelt ...

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