Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Critique is the process of examining or evaluating something (or as a noun is the outcome of that process).

explanatory context

Critique may be surface, commenting on the pleasurability of a film, the acting in a play, the execution of a work of art, the relevance of a social policy, the adeptness of a political speech, and so on.


At a deeper level it is the process of deconstructing (taking apart) a concept, idea, policy, presupposition or theory. In critical social research and dialectical analysis, critique is a process of deconstruction and reconstruction of an alternative coneptualisation.


Critique is often linked to the arts, although is not restricted to discussions in that realm.


In everyday parlance 'critique' is little differentiated from 'criticism', although not having the negative connotations often associated with the latter term.

analytical review

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2013) provides a usage note:

Critique has been used as a verb meaning “to review or discuss critically” since the 18th century, but lately this usage has gained much wider currency, in part because the verb criticize, once neutral between praise and censure, is now mainly used in a negative sense. But this use of critique is still regarded by many as pretentious jargon, although resistance appears to be weakening. In our 1997 survey, 41 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence As mock inquisitors grill him, top aides take notes and critique the answers with the President afterward. Ten years earlier, 69 percent disapproved of this same sentence. Resistance is still high when a person is critiqued: 60 percent of the Usage Panel rejects its use in the sentence Students are taught how to do a business plan and then are critiqued on it. Thus, it may be preferable to avoid this word as a verb. There is no exact synonym, but in most contexts one can usually substitute go over, review, or analyze. Note, however, that critique is widely accepted as a noun in a neutral context; 86 percent of the Panel approved of its use in the sentence The committee gave the report a thorough critique and found it both informed and intelligent.

associated issues


related areas

See also


Critical social research


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2013, 'Critique' 5th edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, available at, accessed 23 May 2017, did not load 2 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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