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Cambridge Social Ontology


Cambridge Realist Workshop

The Cambridge Realist Workshop has been meeting regularly on Monday evenings since 1989/1990. The realist emphasis originated with the common perception of a group of Cambridge economists that modern economics pays too little attention to the nature of material it aims to illuminate.  In consequence, social ontology, the study of the nature of society, became the focus and an early workshop objective was to assess how method can usefully be adapted to insights into the nature of social material. Once instituted the workshop quickly broadened its themes and now encompasses almost any sort of discussion in the field of methodology or the philosophy of social science.  Its emphasis is pluralist and critical.  A concern with relevance remains central however.

In term-time the workshop takes the form of a seminar series that meets on Monday evenings.  Up until 2001 these seminars or workshops took place weekly in Kings College; in 2001 they  moved to Newnham College; in 2004 they moved again to the main seminar room of CRASSH  (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities) at 17 Mill Lane; and after October 2009 workshops were held in the Latimer room in Clare College.  From October 2018 they will once more be held in Newnham College. As always  they take place on Mondays, but currently on a fortnightly basis only. The presentations  start at 8:00 pm, with wine and other drinks served from 7:30pm. 

 The seminars are fairly informal events, usually concerned more with exploring topics of relevance, and with advancing the discussion, than with providing finished work. Presentations can be by local Ph.D. students, visiting professors, Nobel Memorial Prize winners, or whoever. Usually about 40 people attend, although sometimes the number is significantly higher.  Anyone interested is welcome: just turn up.

Out of term many workshop participants continue to meet each Monday evening, usually at a local pub. Also within term various reading groups can emerge.

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