Dr Jack Newman

Reflections on Social Science

by Jack Newman

Welcome.
In this blog I offer my own reflections on the philosophy, theory, and methods of the social sciences.


Dr Jack Newman
Department of Sociology
University of Surrey


Email: jack.newman@surrey.ac.uk
Staff profile: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/jack-newman
Twitter: @jacknewmanhe


I’m a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, based in the Department of Sociology. I’m currently working on the project ‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs’ (LIPSIT), which seeks to identify the institutional arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs. I have previously worked at the University of Leeds, where I was awarded my MA in 2014 and PhD in 2019.

My research is best summarised as three ‘layers’. The most abstract layer entails an interest in social ontology, epistemology, social theory, critical realism, and the philosophy of the social sciences. The middle layer concerns the theory and practice of social research, particularly critical discourse analysis, policy analysis, and the application of realist ‘meta-theories’. The empirical layer of my research is focused primarily on British politics and public policy, with particular interests in social security policy, the UK Conservative Party, and (more recently) regional politics.

I am a member of the Political Studies Association, the Social Policy Association, the International Association for Critical Realism, and the Higher Education Academy (Associate Fellow).

Key words: social ontology; social theory; critical discourse analysis; qualitative research; public policy analysis; British politics; social security policy; regional politics.


  • Critical Discourse Analysis and Poststructuralist Discourse Theory

    8th Jun 2020 by

    In this blog post, I outline some key differences between ‘critical discourse analysis’ and ‘poststructuralist discourse theory’, by asking how discourse relates to society and subjects. This blog is based on my recent publication: Newman, J. (2020). ‘Critical realism, critical discourse analysis, and the morphogenetic approach‘. Journal of Critical Realism. <<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog,… Read more

  • Simplifying some -isms and -ologies.

    27th Apr 2020 by

    In this blog post, I outline some key -isms and -ologies that often arise when teaching the philosophy of the social sciences. Students often find it difficult to grapple with this complex of approaches. Here I suggest ways of simplifying these issues for students. <<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog, I attempt to summarise key elements… Read more

  • The Four Strands of My Research

    1st Oct 2019 by

    <<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog, I attempt to summarise key elements of my research in a comprehensible and digestible style. If you find yourself confused, or if you want to engage in some discussion, I would be more than happy to correspond via email: jack.newman@surrey.ac.uk. In recent blogs, I’ve written about some of the theoretical… Read more

  • What is Ontology?

    3rd Sep 2019 by

    <<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog, I attempt to summarise key elements of my research in a comprehensible and digestible style. If you find yourself confused, or if you want to engage in some discussion, I would be more than happy to correspond via email: jack.newman@surrey.ac.uk Ontology: “the philosophy of being and existence.”  The importance of… Read more

  • Are structure and agency real?

    19th Aug 2019 by

    <<<HOMEPAGE || Introduction In my recent publication in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, I engage with two influential approaches to the structure-agency issue: constructivist institutionalism (Hay, 2016) and the morphogenetic approach (Archer, 1995). My paper deals with numerous points of agreement and disagreement between the two approaches, but in this blog, I… Read more

  • Approaching Social Analysis

    26th Jul 2019 by

    <<<HOMEPAGE || Introduction In the first chapter of my thesis, Ontological Social Policy Analysis, I lay out my own ontological assumptions and my prefered analytical modelling of those assumptions. In simpler terms, I explain how I view social reality. This view is one amongst many in the social sciences, and it is therefore necessary for… Read more

  • Ontological Social Policy Analysis: An Introduction

    11th Jul 2019 by

    <<<HOMEPAGE || On 3rd May 2019, my doctoral thesis was passed without corrections by examiners Dave Marsh and Tim Heppell. I would like to thank Stuart McAnulla and Richard Hayton for their three and half years of dedicated supervision. The full manuscript is now available online through the following link: Jack Newman thesis – Ontological… Read more

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