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Realist Complexity, between Causal and Complex Systems


Against the background of previous attempts that have subsequently coalesced causal and complex systems under the rubric of ‘Complex Realism’, the primary objective here is to take stock of the various analytical shortcomings of ‘Complex Realism’ and provide an understanding of how CR scholars analytically treat complexity.

In so doing, it asks three central questions:

  1. What is ‘Realist Complexity’?
  2. Is this ‘Realist Complexity’ complex?
  3. What is the difference between complexity and some things being complex?


The organizers look forward to receiving contributions dealing with these questions in relation to the following themes:

  • Ontology and epistemology
  • Causality (Critical Realist and other perspectives)
  • Systems (open and/or closed)
  • Any combination of the themes listed above



Margaret Archer is is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick and a trustee of the Centre for Critical Realism. She created the “morphogenetic approach” which she developed throughout her academic career.
Philip Gorsky is a comparative-historical sociologist at Yale University, where he is the chair of the department of sociology. His research focuses on populism and democracy, and the Critical Realist philosophy of social science.
Alan Norrie is a professor at the School of Law of the University of Warwick. His research focuses on a critical and historical analysis of criminal law and in its ethical and doctrinal problems, and on ideas of guilt, forgiveness and justice.

Hosted by the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

Organized by Dr Karim Knio

Dr. Karim Knio is an Associate Professor in International Political Economy at ISS,  he is currently the Chair of the ISS research group Governance, Law and Social Justice and ISS academic coordinator of the Mundus MAPP program. More information can be found here.