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Contentions Of Standpoint Epistemology Sociology Essay

This paper examines the idea of 'standpoint epistemology' in the field of communal science and discusses whether this remains a practical radical point of view on knowledge. The concentrate is placed upon the point of view from the feminist point of view and the application form to sociology. The historical content is analyzed as a foundation to knowledge which is put into context in the relationship to knowledge. It is argued as to whether there is still a practical radical perspective on knowledge, both pro's and con's are examined. Conclusions summarize these things highlighting the main element issues of the argument.

The idea of 'standpoint epistemology' is based upon the idea of knowledge that permits a alternative world-view of the obstacles of oppressed women and the eyesight of how knowledge provides a platform for communal activism, change and change. It combines the idea of both a body of knowledge and a way of conducting research. The feminist standpoint offers a call for politics action and a reformation plan. Dorothy Smith was one of the original feminine theorists who developed standpoint epistemology. Smith concentrated greatly on gender studies and discussed 'ruling text messages' which analyzed the power relations in contemporary society and the dominance of men in sociable societies. Smith made the point that the knowledge we have of women, as well as 'ruling text messages' that define the human relationships are completely reverse to the experience of how women are cared for in world. Smith focused in on racism and mentioned that a common bond been around between black women of most nations as that they had experience of oppression, slavery and discrimination. (Johnson 2010)

Sandra Harding, within the framework of female standpoint epistemology places forwards two important boasts: (i) Those communal positions within the under privileged classes has less distortion than those embodied within other classes and (ii) All technological knowledge is socially situated. She essentially puts frontward the debate that the diversity among inquirers creates an epistemic advantage. (Rolin 2006).

The standpoint epistemology has looked after interest from sociologists during the last thirty years. Despite the criticism involved it has continued to develop into a wide array of different perspectives and viewpoints. The research is known as to be meticulously aligned to the materialist perspective (the Marxist feminism view). This gives the study in a more balanced and natural position. Marxist feminism argued a standpoint epistemology that embraced ideas of both knowledge and vitality; as a result having emphasis more on process than that of the materialistic viewpoint. A standpoint therefore may be thought as the action that people accomplish from a communal status perspective. Standpoint research theorists claim that their research is a more complete and demanding set of results than that of their men counterparts. They believe feminist research is suffering from less distortion than male research and therefore stands up to raised scrutiny. (Pamela Abbott 2005). Standpoint is considered to be an epistemology of move and therefore seeks to find change that aligns with knowledge transfer. It has been widely held that the feminist standpoint theory, currently, seeks to find 'epistemic privilege' that helps the female viewpoint. Harding has condemned the feminist standpoint theorists "for wanting to express a single women's point of view" (Harding 2004). The condemnation is based upon the fact that theorists neglect to consider the complete diversity of the feminine point of view. In 1991 Harding explained that there needs to be a reformation of your standpoint that portrays more post modernist standpoints.


In the framework of feminist standpoint epistemology it's important to compare traditional standpoints get back of modern perspectives. Traditionally it was held that "science holds that objective, politics neutral inquiry that maximises the energy in order to attain scientific goals. " (Cassandra L. Pinnick 2003). Harding argues from this viewpoint proclaiming that objectivity in medical research is a delusion and as such a contradiction; it is far too demanding to be objective. (Cassandra L. Pinnick 2003).

Abortion is a subject area which has contentions within the framework of 'standpoint epistemology'. The feminist standpoint provides linkages between that of experience and knowledge. In order to achieve a feminist standpoint you will need to recognize and experience both the struggle and intellectual obstacles first-hand. Hence those women who accomplish this have a very good sounder point of view than the man researcher. Inside the contemptuous subject matter of abortion, those women who've actually experienced the situation will have a deep understanding of the problems, trauma and prejudice of the process than that of a passive observer. It is the difference between that of specific experience which of pure point of view.

MariAnna underlines the value of 'concrete experience' as an important source of information towards a body of knowledge. Sandra Harding mentioned that 'feminist epistemology' is characterised by the identification that women are 'agencies of knowledge' (MariAnna 2002). Women generally are seen to be more versatile with a fluidity that enables these to multi-task and complete multiple events at the same time. MariAnna stated that it's important to tell apart between that of methods and methodology, it is the latter which has deep origins in the epistemology method of research. Feminist methodology within the approach to inquiry is deeply rooted in those feminist values and theories offering a more all natural and wider range of thinking to the topic subject under review.

It has been pointed out by Pamela Abbot et al that we now have conflicting areas of knowledge within feminism i. e. that of standpoint epistemology and the concept of post modernization. They have grown to be difficult because they desire to contain a amount of unity. Abbot argued that "an aspect of relativism remains in the multiple standpoint methods" (Pamela Abbott 2005). That is to say the question remains unanswered concerning who is exactly "the final arbiter of real truth" (Pamela Abbott 2005).

Abbott et al conclude by stating that within the entire research carried out in her book "mainstream sociology becomes limited owing to the systematic bias and distortion in male stream knowledge" (Pamela Abbott 2005). They claim that a total re-thinking is required in sociological knowledge that embraces the feminist contribution. The change is necessary because historically women have not only been ignored but their input has been both marginalised and distorted within the overall science. Therefore advances and contributions made by female researchers and sociologists have to be analyzed for integration within the entire body of knowledge and process of sociological thinking. It is a transformational step process that requires reformation to ensure that both ideas and questions become more centric to the problems of the willpower.

Shawn Best viewed research from the standpoint epistemology that examined the energy of white feminists and the try to subjugate the data of black women; the last mentioned which has been historically regarded as invalid intellectual knowledge. Interestingly he evaluated white women in the role of oppression. In addition to the idea of racism and power, in the 1990's attention was attracted towards the lgbt communities and as such the post-modernist 'Queer Theory' emerged. This submit the discussion that 'biological love-making' in addition to gender was area of the social construct. As a result the possession of certain organs was the 'type' that identified the binary certainty of women or man. (Best 2005).

Sirmondo explained that the central argument of standpoint theory is that it is based after a theory of privilege and not simply another different perspective. It examines erotic discrimination from the point of view of the feminine and therefore provides a program to be remembered as more informed and understand gender issues. So women are within an improved position to see discrimination from a point of view that eludes males. This becomes more noticeable when feminine activists take politics activities to overturn male discrimination. He concludes that those people who see cultural constraints as oppressive can more easily understand those constraints than those who cannot see them. (Sismondo 2010)

In recent years sociologists have been somewhat detached in the mainstream beliefs of science. It had been David Bloor who commented that sociable technology remains impartial to real truth, falsity, rationality, irrationality, success or failure. The desire to have detachment has not only been limited compared to that of relativism. Others have commented that standpoint epistemology may become more of a getaway from "the intellectual quicksand of relativism and indefensible territory of neutrality and detachment" (Iorio 2009). As such the standpoint requires a new examination of objectivity and a movements away from what is considered to be subjective perspectives.

It is considered that most of the contentions that surround standpoint feminism and postmodern feminism are centered on power and agency. The post structural feminists continue steadily to question the transparency after the experiences put forward by women. They say that they count after the same expressive talk about of terms that under pins liberal feminism. Many of these standpoint ideas operate from the premise of fixed fact about the insights made. It is automatically assumed that experience symbolizes both valid and reliable sources of information. These individuals with already fixed identities have limited connection with oppression. These encounters are articulated in classic power relationships. These power relationships tend to fix women to a specific category. (Carole Ruth McCann 2003).

By way of assessment it is useful to examine the international perspectives of contention in standpoint epistemology. The political activism that is currently taking place in modern day Chile offers a direct response that is based upon gender experience. Historically Chilean women have been branded and put in a particular position in Chilean contemporary society, this being termed 'marianismo' (Ttreault 2000). There have been certain criticisms of postmodernism and the movement towards relativism. Therefore has seen many females hybridize the epistemologies in order to deflect the criticism. The way has relocated towards analyzing different voices and standpoints of feminism. In Chilean population the ladies are considered to be very cultured and also have different views on a variety of varying subject matter. It is considered that the postmodern feminist point of view has broadened the words of the Latin American girl and allowed true feminist views to be openly expressed. (Ttreault 2000).

It is over the last two decades that there have been significant improvements in sociological theory and specifically the countless changes in feminist theory. The emphasis being located upon the areas of gender, identity and subjectivity. Dietz explained that within the many debates which have took place it's been contested what is the true so this means of feminine citizenship (Dietz 2003)


Epistemology essentially identifies the knowledge of knowing and the acquisition of knowledge. It relates to how people understand what they know and pulls its source from the disciplines like sociology and psychology. The research fields through this area have given climb to feminist epistemology and the knowledge that specifically pertains to women. As such it becomes a strategy that summarises the experience of women and integrating both knowledge and encounters into the female voice. Newer manipulations of the term epistemology illustrate the word has been widened or redefined to include new areas that were recently omitted by traditional research ideas (Alcoff 1993). The historical implications of female epistemology have been based mostly around clashes that entail feminine liberalism and the oppression of women in society. The necessity to have their contribution acknowledged and included within the context of the sociable sciences.

Feminist standpoint theories generally submit the view that gender creates the public variations in epistemology. The aim being to secure a closer comprehension of how authoritative knowledge is obtained and how female constructive uses can be put onward from marginal standpoints. Historically it's been considered that feminist standpoint theory has remained subordinate to the traditional mainstream school of thought of science. This has brought on feminists to feel uneasy with both their role and contribution in neuro-scientific sciences. (Hirschmann 1997)

In the journal Hypatia, numerous feminist empiricists have argued that technological knowledge is socially situated and therefore there is certainly increasing degrees of convergence between feminist empiricism and standpoint feminism. The second option has become much more subtle in terms of interpreting standpoint promises distinguished from that of views organised by womanly empiricists. Sociologists have explained that feminine empiricism is more a means of how technological claims may be proven instead of standpoint feminism which is more related to the study of technology as a sensation. Both views are similar in that they strive towards a larger degree of diversity. (Intemann 2010).

Jane Flax argues that psycho research, feminist ideas and postmodern philosophies are independent ways of thought, with each being comprehended in a different way. Each one of these has its own perspective on cultural issues and transitional way of thinking. Flax describes feminist theory as "a delimited portion of intellectual discourse where standard consensus occurs between its experts" (Flax 2010). Irrespective of this there remains a exciting debate on those who find themselves discovered as feminist theorists. In this is the importance of analysing gender and the distinction of female issues to that of the male area. The aim of feminist ideas is that of a recovery vehicle in order to reclaim those aspects in population that contain been suppressed or rejected by men dominated viewpoints. As such feminist values demand transformative considering such items as worth, sense of self-worth and the working of stereotypes by the compartmentalization of women into specific categories and thereby denying independence of expression.

One of the central points in feminist standpoint theory comes from that of Karl Marx's views on materialism. Feminists have followed from this viewpoint that the idea of power is the main way towards understanding communal society. As a result there exists a social personality between that of ability and gender. The feminist engagement with epistemology will represent itself in another of two ways i. e. it is either very directly aligned with postmodernism or aligned get back of epistemology; the word 'woman epistemology' generally will imply that it is lined to the last mentioned term. This alone creates a degree of tension and turmoil between the two pushes.

Miranda Fricker mentioned that people can credit feminist postmodernism with making a number of important contributions to sociable science. Amongst this is the contribution to the intellectual knowledge bottom part and making the general populace more alert to the complexity of public identity. In this particular sense it is more exact than that of an onthology that relates purely to category. (Fricker 2000).

In current conditions it's important to recognise that a sizable quantity of women are employed in science, anatomist and educational positions. As a result they give you a diverse selection of opinions on an array of subject matter. The feminine positions tend to have two distinct types of focus (i) that employed with the sciences and (ii) that centered upon society. Research workers have surfaced from former marginalised groups and as such have had a deep way of changing the style of inquiry and thought process. There are still those however that supports the view that feminism is a danger to the objectivity of technology. Sandra Harding remarked that if all knowledge is socially created it will pose a major risk and problem to science. For instance with most experts "the notion that their views of the natural world are subjective is counter with their professional training". (Wyer 2008)

Holland et al believe that the idea of a feminist standpoint tends to be more theoretical and politics. The reason being the inability to split up politics and the epistemology. They have cited particular distinctions appropriate to realism and those affected by empiricism. Additionally they believe that standpoint feminists are much too influenced by principles of gender. In making specific judgements or views on subject matter, the feminist will need a superior knowledge that the theoretical epistemological position if the research is usually to be officially accepted. (Caroline Ramazanolu 2002)

Sandra Harding's views on Standpoint Epistemology targeted more on the ideas of objectivity. Harding advocated a new concept of 'strong objectivity', as opposed to that of the poor principle which she known as 'objectivism'. She stated that objectivity must contain all social values and pursuits from the study that is carried out. She was aware that certain social beliefs could adversely impact the research and cause potential distortions. So Harding viewed traditional research concepts and objectivity as the denial of ethnicities best beliefs (knowledge), whereas the new version totally embraces both political and historical roots.

Harding thought that her new theory supports validity, especially from the feminist standpoint i. e. women are part associated with an oppressed group and therefore they tackle research problems in a less arbitrary way. They are more likely to evaluate theories that might otherwise be forgotten or rejected by more traditional principles or viewpoints. Harding expresses that that the standpoint has a substantial base in the empirical encounters of women and although this may not constitute a foundation of knowledge, nevertheless it does create a more diverse contribution leading towards increased objectivity. As a result it might be seen as a hybrid procedure, between that of objectivity and relativism. Critics have argued that this will fail because concepts of hybridisation cannot sufficiently offer with issues of generalisation and therefore it will neglect to identify from that of fragile objectivity. (Sandra 2001)

One of the very most influential people in the field of standpoint epistemology was that of Dorothy E Smith. Smith is famous throughout the world as a programmer of theories and therefore she has advanced the educational position from a feminist standpoint. Smith developed theories and concepts around the subject subject of gender and specifically that of the 'ruling text messages' of man. She advocated that lots of texts were put together from the male point of view and as such were accountable for defining gender. She further advocated that such guidelines compiled by men determined the rules of culture and defined how we live and execute our lives. Between the books that Smith referenced were the united states Constitution, The Holy Bible and the Communist Manifesto. Smith stated that the rulings described in several literature were completely reverse to the way in which in which women conducted their lives today. Such obsolescence creates the way for change of pondering and revision in these areas. - Ryan B Johnson (Johnson, Standpoint Epistemology Conclusion 2010)

The ASA President Patricia Collins has also been extremely influential in her works on standpoint epistemology. Collins has excelled as a distinguished black professor rising through the ranks dealing with oppression that includes race, class and gender. She emphasises this aspect in her research and talks about white privilege in feminist contemporary society. She has broadened the debate of gender to include that of racial factors as dark-colored women shared the bond in terms of almost widespread oppression. Most black women could recount from their history a record of oppression, slavery and discrimination. This created an even stronger standpoint than that experienced by white women and possessed a wider impact than other discriminated teams like gays, lesbians and Jews. (Johnson, Standpoint Epistemology Brief summary 2010).


Alison Wylie preserved that Standpoint theory is grounded in cultural and political thought. As a result the idea of knowledge and epistemology is nothing at all new. Wylie expresses the most important contributions in the area have been created by Sandra Harding and Nancy Harsock. Standpoint theory carries on to have a profound effect on social and political thinking to this very day. (Grebowicz 2007). The arguments put forward by the feminine epistemology practitioners concentrate upon potential bias and exclusion by their man counterparts. The practice has really disadvantaged women by : (i) excluding them from inquiry (ii) denial of usage of epistemic expert (iii)denigrating feminine cognitive styles and types of knowledge (iv) male dominance that is self-serving and denigrates female contributions as being poor or insignificant (v) ideas of social sensation that render women's pursuits invisible (vi)the creation of knowledge that creates category divisions, creates hierarchies or relegates women to that of subordinate roles. (Andersen 2010). Whilst significant strides have been made for the image resolution of contentions in standpoint epistemology, especially in what we refer to as the Traditional western or first world environment; on the global scene there still remains a lot of work to perform. Females still undergo oppression in such areas as the center East, Africa, Asia, Latin America and many Muslim speaking countries. The internet has helped in the creation of a global forum for females to speak world-wide and talk about experiences, lifestyle, cultural interaction, oppression etc. Nevertheless despite wide open access communication were even seeing examples of where this has been subverted for political power and exclusion of female authority. Illustrations being that of China and certain Middle Eastern countries. Feminist communities also have advocated for the acknowledgement of women's rights on a global scale. However, when this has been approached as a 'individual rights issue' it includes met with opposition from social relativists and liberal real human rights activists. It's been viewed as an attempt by western women to grow western cultural school of thought. The relativist's argument being that reputation of women's protection under the law as human protection under the law is linked to that of traditional western imperialism. This view is very misguided because by nature the idea of oppression, racial discrimination, gender issues etc. are general ones and therefore not restricted to the west but are global issues for quality. (Kim 2010)


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