Appendix Standpoint Theory Standpoint Theory: Based on the research of Nancy C. M. Hartsock, this theory states that experience, knowledge and communication behaviors are shaped by the social groups to which they belong. The theory argues that all standpoints are subjective and as such all statements, theories, and assertions can only be viewed as a representation of a social location. This critical theory was first illuminated in 1807 by the German philosopher Georg Hegel who discussed the different standpoints of the participants in a master-slave relationship.
Harstock used Hegel’s ideas to draw parallels in her studies examining the relationship between men and women. The Five Assumptions of Standpoint Theory Concerning the Nature of Social Life * Understanding social relations is limited by class position. * When class position is structured in opposing ways for opposing groups, each will have an inverted understanding of the other. If the groups are dominant and subordinate, the subordinate understanding of the dominant group will be partial and negative. * The ruling group structures the class position that all groups are forced to participate in. Struggle and achievement are represented by the vision of the oppressed group. * Understanding the standpoint of the oppressed makes the imbalance of relationships among groups visible. This has the potential to lead toward a more just world. Four Additional Epistemological and Ontological Assumptions * As knowledge is a product of social activity, it cannot be objective. * Different understandings as caused by cultural conditions create distinct communication patterns. * Understanding the unique features of another’s experience is worthwhile. * We can only know another’s experience by understanding their interpretations of the experience.
Key Concepts and Terms Standpoint: A position, based on social location that enables a person to interpret. Situated Knowledge: The context and circumstances which grounds an individual’s knowledge. Sexual Division of Labor: Allocation of work on the basis of gender. Essentialism: The belief that all women are the same, that all men are the same, and that these two groups differ from one another. References West, R. , & Turner, L. H. (2004). Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application (2nd ed. ). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Compaines, Inc..