What is the Standpoint Theory?

Definition of the Theory

The standpoint theory highlights the modernistic approaches to the perceptions of people. It explains the extent to which day-to-day interactions influence peoples’ opinions. Therefore, the standpoint theory provides a theoretical perspective based on the similarities of opinions from individuals on their social demography. 

Meaning of the Theory

The theory makes three primary claims. The first one is that knowledge is socially positioned. The second claim asserts that marginalized people are often socially grouped, which allows them to be aware of the issues around them and leads them to ask questions or seek clarification. The last theoretical claim of the standpoint theory recommends that research carried out for purposes of power relations should begin with the marginalized groups (Peixoto, Silva, & Salgado, 2015). The central focus of the model provides scenarios of how the socialization mechanism of society affects their perception and influences their interactions. 

The invention of the Theory

The standpoint theory traces its origin in 1807 from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher who promoted idealist viewpoints. He developed the model while studying the interaction between slaves and their masters (Peixoto, Silva, & Salgado, 2015). The major claim from the investigation was that the relationship between the slave and the master is based on social standing and affects how information flows when they interact.

Development of the Theory

Scholars have developed the theory in their endeavors to explain the levels of oppression from social and political perspectives. Given the claims of the theory that knowledge is socially situated, Hossain (2018) reveals that political oppression occurs due to a dominance of knowledge and information about such issues as rights, budgetary allocations, and economic opportunities by a section of society. The incidents often lead to oppression and marginalization of the remaining citizens. Accordingly, the theory has been used in feminist epistemology to decode how social exclusion and imbalance affect gender relations in the workplace, education institutions, and various systems of socialization.

Application of the Theory in Studies

The theory has been applied in a study involving groups of different female sexual formations and the stereotyping involved in their interactions. Wilcock and Quaid (2018) postulate that based on the standpoint theory, emotions in women contribute to knowledge and influence their decision-making. For instance, a lesbian who seeks to become pregnant passes through conscious reflections triggered by social perspectives and gender roles to influence her decision (Wilcock & Quaid, 2018). On the other hand, Hill (2017) applied the standpoint model to explain the 2011 New York City protest over allegations of corporate corruption and the inequalities in the incomes of U.S. citizens. The theory has been used in various studies to explain social interactions’ political, emotional, and behavioral aspects.   

Practical Application of the Theory

The theory is used to explain the African context of the patriarchal society that denies rights and privileges to women. According to Chilisa and Ntseane (2010), gender and education have formed a basis of oppression for women leading to marginalization. In their application to a school-based setup, Chilisa and Ntseane (2010) assert that girls and boys have received varied treatment at school, leading to exclusion and susceptibility to pregnancies and diseases for girls while their counterparts excel. Therefore, the standpoint model is used to deliver explanations aimed at correcting the variant gender perspectives in society.



Chilisa, B., & Ntseane, G. (2010). Resisting dominant discourses: Implications of indigenous, African feminist theory and methods for gender and education research. Gender and Education, 22(6), 617-632.

Hill, C. A. (2017). Repugnant business models: Preliminary thoughts on a research and policy agenda. Washington and Lee Law Review., 74(2), 973-1000.

Hossain, S. S. (2018). Designing and demonstrate gender role to early seeds lead for lifelong understanding: An initiative to identify conflict of learning institution and cognitive knowledge. Australian Academy of Business and Economics Review, 4(3), 154-174.

Peixoto, D. R., e Silva, N. L., & Salgado, R. H. C. (2015). Gadamer’s dialectics and its basis on Hegel’s theory. In M. Galuppo., M.S. Lopes., K. Salgado., L. Gontijo & T. Bustamante (Eds.), Human rights, rule of law and the contemporary social challenges in complex societies. (pp. 2028-2042). MG, Brasil: Belo Horizonte.

Wilcock, A., & Quaid, S. (2018). Exploring the dynamics of situated emotionality in feminist standpoint epistemology. Working Paper no 4. University of Sunderland: Center for Applied Social Sciences.

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