Feminist approaches to social science: epistemological and methodological tenets

Am J Community Psychol. 2000 Dec;28(6):773-91. doi: 10.1023/A:1005159716099.


This paper is a primer for community psychologists on feminist research. Much like the field of community psychology, feminist scholarship is defined by its values and process. Informed by the political ideologies of the 1970s women's movement (liberal, radical, socialist feminism, and womanism), feminist scholars reinterpreted classic concepts in philosophy of science to create feminist epistemologies and methodologies. Feminist epistemologies, such as feminist empiricism, standpoint theory, and postmodernism, recognize women's lived experiences as legitimate sources of knowledge. Feminist methodologies attempt to eradicate sexist bias in research and find ways to capture women's voices that are consistent with feminist ideals. Practically, the process of feminist research is characterized by four primary features: (1) expanding methodologies to include both quantitative and qualitative methods, (2) connecting women for group-level data collection, (3) reducing the hierarchical relationship between researchers and their participants to facilitate trust and disclosure, and (4) recognizing and reflecting upon the emotionality of women's lives. Recommendations for how community psychologists can integrate feminist scholarship into their practice are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Female
  • Feminism*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Psychology, Social
  • Research Design*
  • Social Sciences*