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The emphasis in the nineteenth century on the importance of economics in defining social life, combined with scepticism toward the supernatural, and confidence in the ability of humans to represent their time and place in history objectively defined the development of realism (Fuery and Mansfield, 1997). This rise in realism coincided with the development of empiricism in research. The belief was held that the world could be understood and analyzed by patient and systematic observation and described by statistics. The nature of the world could be recorded faithfully by minimizing the observer's situation and prejudice.

"Realism reflects the dominant intellectual beliefs and influences of the time in which it arose. The nineteenth century also saw the ascendancy of economic pragmatism, scientific empiricism, social utilitarianism, and a concomitant rise of socialism and atheism." (Fuery and Mansfield, 1997)

Overview of Critical Theory
Early Critical Theorists Realism Modernism Postmodernism Links  
Updated: 11/27/99
Laurie Williams