Contemporary articles citing Habermas J (1971) Knowledge Human Inte

forms, critical, framework, aspects, realism, yet, sociological, nature, understanding, context

Reed, Isaac. 2010. "Epistemology Contextualized: Social-scientific Knowledge in a Postpositivist Era." Sociological Theory. 28:1 20-39.
In the production of knowledge about social life, two social contexts come together: the context of investigation, consisting of the social world of the investigator, and the context of explanation, consisting of the social world of the actors who are the subject of study. The nature of, and relationship between, these contexts is imagined in philosophy; managed, rewarded, and sanctioned in graduate seminars, journal reviews, and tenure cases; and practiced in research. Positivism proposed to produce objective knowledge by suppressing the nonlogical and nonobservational aspects of the contexts. Attacks on positivism disputed the effectiveness and rationality of this strategy. Thus ``postpositivism'' can be understood as a series of attempts to reconstitute the relation between the contexts as the basis for accurate social knowledge. Two of the most important of these attempts-grounded theory and postmodern anthropology-are considered, and a synthesis, which draws from the insights of cultural sociology, is proposed.

Reed, Isaac. 2008. "Justifying Sociological Knowledge: From Realism to Interpretation." Sociological Theory. 26:2 101-129. Link
In the context of calls for ``postpositivist'' sociology, realism has emerged as a powerful and compelling epistemology for social science. In transferring and transforming scientific realism-a philosophy of natural science-into a justificatory discourse for social science, realism splits into two parts: a strict, highly naturalistic realism and a reflexive, more mediated, and critical realism. Both forms of realism, however, suffer from conceptual ambiguities, omissions, and elisions that make them an inappropriate epistemology for social science. Examination of these problems in detail reveals how a different perspective-centered on the interpretation of meaning-could provide a better justification for social inquiry, and in particular a better understanding of sociological theory and the construction of sociological explanations.

Langman, L. 2005. "From Virtual Public Spheres to Global Justice: a Critical Theory of Internetworked Social Movements." Sociological Theory. 23:1 42-74. Link
From the early 1990s when the EZLN (the Zapatistas), led by Subcommandte Marcos, first made use of the Internet to the late 1990s with the defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Trade and Investment and the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, Quebec, and Genoa, it became evident that new, qualitatively different kinds of social protest movements were emergent. These new movements seemed diffuse and unstructured, yet at the same time, they forged unlikely coalitions of labor, environmentalists, feminists, peace, and global social justice activists collectively critical of the adversities of neoliberal globalization and its associated militarism. Moreover, the rapid emergence and worldwide proliferation of these movements, organized and coordinated through the Internet, raised a number of questions that require rethinking social movement theory. Specifically, the electronic networks that made contemporary globalization possible also led to the emergence of ``virtual public spheres'' and, in turn, ``Internetworked Social Movements.'' Social movement theory has typically focused on local structures, leadership, recruitment, political opportunities, and strategies from framing issues to orchestrating protests. While this tradition still offers valuable insights, we need to examine unique aspects of globalization that prompt such mobilizations, as well as their democratic methods of participatory organization and clever use of electronic media. Moreover, their emancipatory interests become obscured by the ``objective'' methods of social science whose ``neutrality'' belies a tacit assent to the status quo. It will be argued that the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory offers a multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach that considers the role of literacy and media in fostering modernist bourgeois movements as well as anti-modernist fascist movements. This theoretical tradition offers a contemporary framework in which legitimacy crises are discussed and participants arrive at consensual truth claims; in this process, new forms of empowered, activist identities are fostered and negotiated that impel cyberactivism.

Steinmetz, G. 2004. "Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and ``small N's'' in Sociology." Sociological Theory. 22:3 371-400. Link
Case studies and ``small-N comparisons'' have been attacked from two directions, positivist and incommensurabilist. At the same time, some authors have defended small-N comparisons as allowing qualitative researchers to attain a degree of scientificity, yet they also have rejected the case study as merely ``idiographic.'' Practitioners of the case study sometimes agree with these critics, disavowing all claims to scientificity. A related set of disagreements concerns the role and nature of social theory in sociology, which sometimes is described as useless and parasitic and other times as evolving in splendid isolation from empirical research. These three forms of sociological activity-comparative analysis, studies of individual cases, and social theory-are defended here from the standpoint of critical realism. In this article I first reconstruct, in very broad strokes, the dominant epistemological and ontological framework of postwar U.S. sociology. The next two sections discuss several positivist and incommensurabilist criticisms of comparison and case studies. The last two sections propose an understanding of comparison as operating along two dimensions, events and structures, and offer an illustration of the difference and relationship between the two.

MEADWELL, H. 1994. "The Foundations of Habermas Universal Pragmatics." Theory and Society. 23:5 711-727. Link

Jay, M. 1996. "For Theory." Theory and Society. 25:2 167-183. Link