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‘Post-Truth’: Applying Critical Realism to Real World Problems

The term ‘post-truth’ denotes a particular form of right-wing politics and public discourse that includes intentional misleading, misinformation, and disinformation, often mediated through the strategic use of digital media (social networks or so-called ‘echo-chambers’). Its corrosive effects include undermining democratic processes and structures, and the discrediting of ‘experts’, ‘expertise’, and ‘science’ by political actors. Post-truth politics thus endangers the identification of the causes of and plausible solutions to global problems such as climate change, the rise of inequality and migration, and the understanding of their articulation and problematisation within and across states, localities, and (social) systems.

Critical Realism as a philosophical meta-theory is uniquely positioned to make a difference in this context: As an ‘underlabourer’ to both the natural and the social sciences: It pursues an emancipatory and progressive agenda; it engages with ontological questions and claims to truth, while acknowledging the fallibility of knowledge.

In this conference we aim to explore, from a Critical Realist perspective, the challenges ‘post-truth’ politics poses for society, the need for value based research, and the role, representation and dissemination of academic knowledge in the public sphere. We are particularly interested in applied research where engagement with Critical Realism improves our understanding of and the generation of solutions to real-world problems.

We invite proposals for paper session on the following themes:

  • The role and representation of scientific knowledge, evidence and expertise in the public domain
  • The value base and emancipatory potential of academic knowledge and its scope to inform policy and practice
  • The application of Critical Realism to real world problems and issues
  • Climate change/ denial of climate change and environmental protection
  • The complementarities and tensions between postmodernism and neoliberal political discourse and politics
  • International politics in a ‘post-truth’ environment
  • The relationship between Critical Discourse Analysis/Studies and Critical Realism
  • Education, including higher education, in the context of post-truth politics
  • Health and well-being in the context of neoliberal politics

The conference will host a roundtable on the work of Andrew Collier, a distinguished Critical Realist who worked at the University of Southampton.

Questions and enquiries can be sent to Sandra Dancer: S.Dancer@soton.ac.uk

Abstract submission: https://app.oxfordabstracts.com/stages/1033/submission

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Southampton,

The conference organisers:

Karin Zotzmann, Ivo Vassilev & Sandra Dancer