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Critical realism (CR) is a philosophy of the social and natural sciences. CR can help to resolve contradictions in social science; promote interdisciplinary research; deepen research analysis that connects macro to micro, local to global levels; and examine transformative change over time.

The social sciences are divided by disagreements and contradictions, primarily between positivism (a broad term for mainly quantitative, factual, statistical, experimental, and evaluative research) and interpretivism (a broad term for many qualitative, ethnographic, constructionist, and postmodern approaches). Positivists tend to treat even ambiguous complex matters, such as happiness or Scholastic Aptitude Tests, if they are precise, measurable facts about children’s actual happiness or learning. In contrast, many interpretivists treat even solid, universal realities, such as children’s bodies, as if they are contingent, local, social ...

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