This book extends debates in the field of biographical research, arguing that causal explanations are not at odds with biographical research and that biographical research is in fact a valuable tool for explaining why things in social and personal lives are one way and not another. Bringing reconstructive biographical research into dialogue with critical realism, it explains how and why relational social ontology can become a unique theoretical ground for tapping emergent mechanisms and latent meaning structures. Through an account of the reasons for which reductionist epistemologies, rational action models and covering law explanations are not appropriate for biographical research, the authors develop the philosophical idea of singular causation as a means by which biographical researchers are able to forge causal hypotheses for the occurrence of events and offer guidance on the application of this methodological principle to concrete, empirical examples. As such, this volume will appeal to scholars across the social sciences with interests in biographical research and social research methods.

chapter 1|11 pages


Singular causation and biographical research

chapter 2|18 pages

Philosophical arguments on social causality

Cases of reductionism

chapter 3|11 pages

Critical realism

Causal mechanisms as emergent powers

chapter 4|17 pages

Causal explanation as process tracing

chapter 5|13 pages

Relating cases with phenomena

Arguments for generalizing through mechanisms

chapter 7|14 pages

Why the temporal is causal

chapter 9|7 pages


Summarizing the argumentation