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Method, methodology and politics

Edgley, Alison




A number of authors have identified Chomsky’s work as belonging within the critical realist tradition (Wilkin 1997; Edgley 2000; Laffey 2003). In chapter five, Alison Edgley explores some of the epistemological assumptions of critical realism, in order to highlight his distinctive and nuanced approach to social scientific study and examine the ways in which Chomsky could be said to be operationalizing this approach. She identifies three methods typically employed by Chomsky that, when employed rigorously, enable the alert social scientist to the possibility and nature of contradictions between policy rhetoric and policy outcomes. Chomsky, as is typical of a critical realist in action, seeks to identify both necessity and possibility or potential in the world by asking what things must go together, and what could happen, given the nature of those objects. His writings show how critical realist analysis can successfully be deployed across the publications, pronouncements and actions of policy-makers, academics, civil servants, journalists and opinion-formers to produce an exemplar of robust and revealing foreign policy analysis, For these reasons, it can be argued that critical realism provides a compelling philosophical underpinning for doing social science research in general, and for Chomsky’s research on American foreign policy in particular.


Edgley, A. (2015). Method, methodology and politics. In A. Edgley (Ed.), Noam Chomsky. Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date Feb 12, 2015
Publication Date Aug 31, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2018
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Series Title Critical explorations in contemporary political thought
Book Title Noam Chomsky
Chapter Number 5
ISBN 9781137320209
Public URL
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Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


5 Edgley Method methodology and politics.pdf (453 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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