The Feminist Standpoint Theory

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Introduction Feminist standpoint theory came into being in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The genealogy of feminist standpoint theory however began with Hegal’s account of the slave/master dialectic, and after that with Marx and, Lukacs’ development of the idea of a standpoint of the proletariate. Hegal’s argument was that a slaves can in time reach a state “freedom of consciousness” due to their realisation of self-consciousness through struggles against the master, and through physical labour that enables him/her to fashion the world - to affect it in various ways. Hegal’s analysis of the slave/master relationship and the struggle that took place gave rise to the idea that oppression is better studied and analysed from the point of view of the oppressed,…show more content…
As Hartsock developed it the central notion is that material experience shapes epistemology, the degree to which people share a set of experiences. For example, if women largely have exclusive responsible for raising children then they share a standpoint. But as practices of raising children differs from culture to culture their standpoints will also differ. However, the methodological similarities cross over these differences. It is the methodological similarities that provide the means for women from these different groups to resist their oppression, they do this by drawing on the epistemological power of their shared experiences. The fact that these group have distinct standpoints due to difference in race, class, culture or sexuality does not undermine the methodological communality. Ignoring or missing the methodological point leads to misunderstanding and criticisms of feminist standpoint as indifferent to the differences between women, and seeking a commonality between all women. If we look at the process of developing a standpoint as the same, but acknowledge that the substance of particular standpoint will differ depending on experiences than it is clear that a feminist standpoint approach to contemporary feminist research can and does accommodate difference, specificity and…show more content…
Postmodernism challenges the idea of “human nature” by emphasising differences, particularity and context, It shakes up the notions which cause us to make sweeping generalisations that reflect certain historico-cultural locations which we pass of as “truth”. Postmodernist see us as “socially constructed”, this idea is central to postmodernism and it suggests that who we are is not because of “nature”, but because of social relations, practices and institutions that shape the world we occupy. Feminist standpoint theory provides a different approach to epistemology which allow for being beyond the superficial notion of “social construction”. Some feminists see a conflict between embracing and address difference but still being able to hold onto and keep the concept of “woman” which retains a concept of communality across these various differences. Multiple feminist standpoints can hold the answer to this conflict. Feminist standpoint as a way of seeing the world, naming and renaming experience, redefining knowledge, is a powerful methodology in understanding that reality is an ongoing process.
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