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Transcript of Standpoint Theory
Of Sandra Harding and Julia T. Wood Religion
Political Affiliation Our standpoint affects our worldview WHAT IF: your native language became your second language, if your skin was now dark or was now light, If your bank account, job, and home were all gone? Sandra Harding and Julia Wood claim that the social groups to which we belong shape what we know and how we communicate.
(Societal inequalities generate distinctive accounts of nature and social relationships) German philosopher George Hegel analyzed the master-slave relationship to show that what people “know” about themselves, others, and society depends on which group they are in and that the powerful control received knowledge The perspective from the lives of the less powerful can provide a more objective view than the perspective from the lives of the more powerful. Women as a
marginalized group Standpoint theorist sees important differences between men and women These differences are a result of cultural expectations and the treatment that each group receives from the other Culture is not experienced identically by all members of society because of inequities.
Women are under-advantaged
Men are over-advantaged. Harding and Wood point out that women are not a monolithic group, and thus they do not all share the same standpoint.
Economic condition, race, and sexual orientation also contribute to a woman’s position in society. Yet Wood feels that a sense of solidarity is politically necessary if women are to effectively challenge male domination and gain full participation in public life. People at the top of the societal hierarchy have the power to define others. Knowledge from nowhere versus local knowledge. Standpoint theorists believe that those who define a field shape the picture of the world that emerges from that field.
This view contrasts sharply with the claim that "truth" is value-free and accessible to any objective observer. Harding does not want to abandon the search for reality; she simply believes that the search should begin from the lives of those in the underclass. A. Like all knowledge, the perspectives arising from the standpoint of women or any other minority are partial or situated knowledge
B. However, standpoint theorists believe that the perspectives of subordinate groups are more complete and thus better than those of privileged groups in a Those who come from a lower status community have a more complete knowledge on account of the fact that they endure so many more struggles in their lifetimes.
They also ponder more regularly about how those from higher status communities live on a day-to-day basis.
On account of their experiences and their patterns of thought, those who come from lower status communities “experience” more and have a more complete and diverse knowledge of the world.
This provides them with a better foundation for their worldviews and their standpoint How would your life change if your woke up tomorrow and one of your privileged standpoints changed? Strong objectivity: less partial views from the standpoint of women 2 reasons why the standpoints of women and other marginalized groups are less partial, distorted, and false than those of men in dominant positions 1. Marginalized people have more motivation to understand the perspective of the powerful than vice versa.
2. Marginalized people have little reason to defend the status quo. The perspective generalized from women and other marginalized group provides a preferred standpoint from which to begin research.
By contrast, knowledge generated from the standpoint of dominant groups offers only "weak objectivity." Strong and Weak Objectivity The standpoint of black feminist thought “intersecting oppressions” puts black women in a different marginalized place in society than either white women or black men.
The different social location means that black women’s way of knowing is different from Harding and Wood’s idea of standpoint theory.
Four ways that black women validate knowledge.
1. Lived experience as a criterion of meaning
2. The use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claims.
3. The ethic of caring
4. The ethic of personal accountability. Ethical reflection: Benhabib’s interactive universalism Seyla Benhabib maintains that a universal ethical standard is a viable possibility, one that values diversity of belief without thinking that every difference is ethically significant.
Postmodern Critique:Instead of reaching a consensus on how everyone should act, interacting individuals can align themselves with a common good.
Communitarian critique: Pahhuman ethic can be achieved through interaction with collective concrete others—ordinary people who live in community—rather than imposed on them by a rational elite.
Feminist Critique: Women’s experiences different from men. Political and economic justice in a masculine dominated world. Interactive universalism would avoid privatizing women’s experience. Critique: Do standpoints on the margins give a less false view? Woods states that the concept of women as a single social group is politically useful, but this may not be an actual reality
As proponents become more and more specific about the standpoints from which particular women communicate, the concept of group solidarity at the heart standpoint theory becomes questionable
Some feminist scholars contend that Harding’s version of standpoint theory underestimates the role of language, which is influenced by society and culture and which cannot be separated from standpoint
Wood acknowledges that it may be difficult to determine which social groups are more marginalized than others. Obscured sight Different perspective Different experience Different knowledge gained from perspective Why should I care when I am not affected by their struggle and I benefit from their struggle? It's good to be on top! How is it fair that they reap the rewards of my hardwork, What do I get? I have many grievances to make the world aware of. Its time for change! I'm just a girl in a white-male dominated world Harding believes that each person can achieve only a partial view of reality from the perspective of his or her own position in the social hierarchy.
No possible way to have an unbiased perspective or viewpoint of the world. My own thought: Social mobility isn’t really discussed in this theory. That someone’s standpoint can change if they move to a different point of view or different social status. Does is change their point of view or do the struggles from the lower social status remain important? THE END White
Male Latina Black
Woman Lesbian Black
Class Gay Feminist Poor Rich Standpoint theorists emphasize the importance of social location because they are convinced that people at the top (white-male)of the societal hierarchy are the ones privileged to define what it means to be female, male, or anything else in a given culture. Emotional
Mother Soft Paid less Housewife Each person has only a partial perspective from their standpoint. Different ways of life and have viewpoints of the world according to one’s place in the world