Integrating Discourse, Construction and Objectivity: A Contemporary Realist Approach

Raymond W.K. Lau, Jamie Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


In recent developments in the realism-constructionism debate, attempts have been made by individual scholars on both sides to assimilate the other side's insights into one's own position. With respect to epistemology, such attempts have so far failed. Situated in this context, this article proposes a general approach in which valid insights from constructionism, discourse theory, and pragmatist critique of realism are integrated into realist epistemology. Discourses are distinguished along two dimensions; interrelating these two dimensions, the interplay between epistemic and extra-discursive factors along them in discursive contention are analyzed under different categories of situations across the entire discursive spectrum. The balance between the determinative effects of epistemic and extra-discursive factors varies from one type of situation to another. Our approach enables the retention of the critical edge of skepticism, shows realist epistemology to be useful in sociological research in ways previously unrealized, and provides heuristic guidelines for conducting sociological research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-589
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • construction of reality
  • discourse and realism
  • epistemic objectivity
  • epistemic relativism
  • weak constructionism


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