Standpoint Theory1

Standpoint Theory1 - Standpoint Theory S tandpoint special...

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1 | Standpoint Theory – special readings, Communication 101 Standpoint Theory Standpoint Theory special readings for Communication 101 Instructor: Matt Vander Boegh Overview of Standpoint Theory “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.” Griffin, M. (2009). A First Look at Communication Theory ; New York: McGraw Hill. KEY TERM: Marginalized Individuals are people who have been relegated to a lower social class in society, and have been excluded from meaningful participation in society. What is Standpoint Theory ? Standpoint Theory holds that different individuals or groups in society possess significantly different perspectives (or standpoints) that shape their views of reality. Standpoint theory usually involves claims that some standpoint should be privileged over others, at least for analytic problems. This idea has a long philosophical pedigree dating back to critiques of Enlightenment universalism. One of the premises of Enlightenment philosophy, articulated by René Descartes and others, was that knowledge had to be freed from the constraints and distortions of perspective; truth had to be based on pure reason. For some later philosophers, this implied a “view from nowhere.” Such critics argued that all knowledge reflected the position (in space, time, and social relations) of the observer. Karl Marx , for one, assigned a prominent role to economic status in determining forms of thought and selfhood. More particularly, he accorded an analytical privilege to the proletariat based on its subordination—a capacity to
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2 | Standpoint Theory – special readings, Communication 101 grasp the underlying structures of the social order. Georg Lukács famously described this as the standpoint of the proletariat, which he argued enabled insight into processes of social transformation. Much of the contemporary work in standpoint theory is associated with the feminist scholarship of Dorothy Smith and Sandra Harding —both of whom continue to strongly engage these Marxist concerns (as well as, in Smith's case, the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel ). Their work addresses the question of a privileged perspective for subordinated groups, especially women, as well as the practical political question of how to reconcile shared forms of oppression with the diversity of women's experiences—diversity that may not necessarily produce shared understandings of women's condition or shared interests in combating structures of patriarchy. This resistance to the universalizing or biologizing claims of much early feminism represents a significant turn within feminism and feminist theory since the 1980s. It involves the recognition, too, of the advantages of issue-based or coalitional agendas, which may include other groups who experience similar
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This note was uploaded on 10/11/2011 for the course COMM 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Boise State.

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Standpoint Theory1 - Standpoint Theory S tandpoint special...

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