Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Frederic S. Lee and Bruce Cronin

Despite the important critiques of the mainstream offered by heterodox economics, the dominant method remains econometrics. This major new Handbook provides an invaluable introduction to a range of alternative research methods better suited for analysing the social data prominent in heterodox research projects, including survey, historical, ethnographic, experimental, and mixed approaches, together with factor, cluster, complex, and social network analytics. Introductions to each method are complemented by descriptions of applications in practice.

Chapter 1: Critical realism as a social ontology for economics

Jamie Morgan

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, methodology of economics, post-keynesian economics, radical and feminist economics, research methods, research methods in economics


This chapter provides an introductory account of the core elements of a generic critical realist social ontology for economics. The focus on social ontology in critical realism puts forward a position based on causal powers inhering in entities (such as structures and agents), complex interactions between causal powers in terms of arising events, and a consequent account of systems as ‘open’. According to its proponents, this social ontology is implicit within heterodox economic positions but is antithetical to mainstream economics. This is because mainstream economics pursues theorizations and applications that reduce to closed systems and typically assume and/or explore event regularities, often based on uses of mathematical models that are expressed in a deductive form. Critical realism’s great strength is that it provides a more plausibly realistic account of the economy as an intrinsic aspect of society; in so doing it ‘under-labours’ for heterodox approaches. However, in so far as it only under-labours, critical realism can also be developed in a variety of ways based on different issues for methods and methodology.