Standpoint Theory

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Standpoint Theory

Section A: Definitions

Sandra Harding – A philosopher of science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has most advanced standpoint theory among feminist scholars

Julia Wood – A professor of communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has championed and applied standpoint theory within the field of communication.

Social location – standpoint theorists emphasize this because they are convinced that people at the top of social hierarchy are Privileged to define what it means to be female or male

Standpoint – an achieved position based on a social location that lends an interpretative aspect to a person’s life

Georg Hegel – German philosopher whose 1807 analysis of the master-slave relationship revealed that what people “know” depends upon which group they are in and that the powerful control received knowledge

Jean-Francoise Lyotard – a postmodernist who favors a stance of “incredulity toward metanarratives,” including Enlightenment rationality and Western science

Local knowledge – Knowledge that is situated in time, place, and experience in your specific amount of power

Strong objectivity – the strategy of starting research from the lives of women and other marginalized groups, thus providing a less false view of reality

Patricia Hill Collins – African American sociologist at Brandeis University, who claims the patterns of “intersecting oppressions” means that black women are in a different marginalized place in society than white women or black men

Seyla Benhabib – Professor of political science and philosophy at Yale University who maintains that a universal ethical standard is a viable possibility.

Intersectionality – All aspects of a person’s identity are intertwined, mutually constituting each other.

Section B: Discussion questions

Describe standpoint theory in your own words with at least three examples of perspective of the theory.

Standpoint refers to perspectives of a person. The theory depicts that different locations within the social hierarchy affect what is seen. The standpoints of marginalized people provide less false views of the world than do the privileged perspectives of the powerful. Strong objectivity requires that scientific research start from the lives of women, the poor, gays and lesbians, and racial minorities. Some examples of the standpoint theory include:

Policy formations for the poor and marginalized such as old and orphans, policy makers don’t really understand what problems are faced by the marginalized as they have a different perspective.

People feel inferior for growing up in a specific culture for example people with disability feels inferior and does not try to rise above it by doing what they can despite their disability.

Men and women face different problems for example men never face menstruation and pregnancy like women and therefore don’t understand women’s perspective.

What is common to the standpoints of women, Africans Americans, the poor, and members of the LGBTQ community that may provide them with a less false view of the way society works?

The most common thing about this group is that they all the victims thus face the problems and can be regarded as the marginalized. Marginalized and differently abled individuals have a better outlook and possess a better standpoint as they tend to view more of the world than the fortunate, that is compared to those who don’t face the problems such as the rich and powerful. The marginalized have more motivation to gain perspectives on various issues while others are busy protecting their status and status quo.

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