feminist epistemology

I am at the moment working on how feminist epistemology influences the choice of a social research method.

What is feminist epistemology and philosophy of science? Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as the study of the ways gender influences our conceptions of knowledge, the knowing subject, and practices of inquiry and justification. The history of epistemology is one of clash between committment to struggle and to philosophy (Alcoff and Potter 1993). Initially, it aimed to show how women have been traditionally disadvantaged and excluded from systems of knowledge production. While this project of critique still goes on, feminist epistemology has moved on to reconstruct this dominant tradition and its practices so that they serve the interests of subordinate groups (ie women).

The central concept is that of  situated knowledge. How does gender situate the subject? According to Sandra Harding’s classification (1986), three main approaches have been articulated by feminist philosophers: feminist postmodernism, feminist empiricism and feminist standpoint theory. This paper examines these approaches and, moreover, addresses the recent trend of intersectionality. Gender, for contemporary feminist philosophers, does nor function as single and universal category or the primary axis of oppression. The term ‘woman’ does not have an analytic credibility and it cannot be separated from class, race, sexuality, culture, age and other contextual categories. This school of thought has significantly transforms the methodological framework of the social research undertaken.

Biblio
Alcoff, Linda, and Elizabeth Potter, (eds.) 1993. Feminist Epistemologies. New York: Routledge
Benhabib, Seyla, Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell and Nancy Fraser, 1995. Feminist Contentions. New York: Routledge
Butler, B. and Scott, J. (eds.), ‘Feminists Theorize the Political’, New York and London: Routledge
Haraway, Donna, 1991. “Situated Knowledges”. In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. New York: Routledge
Harding, Sandra, 1986. The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
E. Grosz  ‘What is feminist theory?’ in C, Pateman, E Gross (eds) Feminist Challenges (Allen and Unwin, 1986)
M. Hawkesworth ‘Knower, knowing, known: feminist theory and claims of truth’ Signs 14(3), 1989.
J.W. Scott (1992) ‘Experience’, in Judith Butler and Joan Scott (eds.), Feminists Theorize the Political. New York and London: Routledge.
C.T. Mohanty (2002) ‘”Under Western Eyes” Revisited: Feminist solidarity through anticapitalist struggles’, Signs 28(2): 499-533.
L. Stanley (1993) ‘The Knowing Because Experiencing Subject: Narratives, lives, autobiographies’, Women’s Studies International Forum 16(3): 205-215.
Umut Erel, Jin Haritaworn, Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Christian Klesse (2007) ‘On the Depoliticisation of Intersectionality Talk. Conceptualising Multiple Oppressions in Critical Sexuality Studies’.

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