This ground-breaking book makes the case for adopting a realist philosophical perspective for qualitative research. Joseph Maxwell argues for critically applying a realist ontology to a number of important theoretical and methodological issues. This can provide a stronger justification for what qualitative researchers do, he contends, and significantly contribute to current theories and practices. The book outlines critical realism and considers its implications for how we conceptualize meaning and culture, causation, and diversity. The author applies critical realist ideas and approaches to the design and methods of qualitative research, and presents two in-depth case studies of projects he conducted, describing how realist (and other) perspectives informed the research, the methods, and the conclusions.