Standpoint theory

Standpoint theory is a postmodern method for analyzing inter-subjective discourses. "Developed primarily by social scientists, especially sociologists & political theorists. It extends some of the early insights about consciousness that emerged from Marxist/socialist feminist theories and the wider conversations about identity politics. It endeavors to develop a feminist epistemology, or theory of knowledge, that delineates a method for constructing effective knowledge from the insights of women's experience." [McCann and Kim "Feminist Theory Reader:Local and global perspectives" 2003] It arose amongst feminist theorists, such as Dorothy Smith, Nancy Hartsock, Sandra Harding, and Patricia Hill Collins.

According to this approach:
* A standpoint is a place from which human beings view the world.
* A standpoint influences how the people adopting it socially construct the world.
* Social group membership affects people's standpoints.
* The inequalities of different social groups create differences in their standpoints.
* All standpoints are partial; so (for example) Standpoint feminism coexists with other standpoints.

Standpoint theory supports what Harding calls strong objectivity, or the notion that the perspectives of marginalized individuals can help to create more objective accounts of the world.


George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel created the theory to explore social institution of slavery in 1807. The theory plays off the idea that the belonging of an individual to a certain group affects the views of daily occurrences. People associate themselves with different social groups based on similarities to discover oneself.

ee also

*Standpoint feminism


DeFrancisco, Victoria P. Communicating Gender Diversity: A Critical Approach. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, INC., 2007.

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