Critical Realism in IS Research

Critical Realism in IS Research

Sven A. Carlsson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-553-5.ch108
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The Information Systems (IS) field is dominated by research approaches and theories based in positivism (Arnott, Pervan, O’Donnell, & Dodson, 2004; Chen & Hirschheim, 2004; Schultze & Leidner, 2003). IS scholars have pointed out weaknesses in these approaches and theories and in response different strands of post-modern theories and constructivism have gained popularity—see Lee, Liebenau, and DeGross, (1997), Trauth (2001), Whitman and Woszczynski (2004), and Michael Myers’ “Qualitative Research in Information Systems” ( The approaches and theories argued for include interpretivism, ethnography, grounded theory, and theories like Giddens’ (1984) structuration theory and Latour’s (1987) actor-network theory. (For simplicity, we refer to these different approaches and theories as “post-approaches” and “post-theories” when distinction is not required).

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