Written by Dr. Hannes Nel, MBL; D. Com; D. Phil
Feminism is grounded in
feminist values and beliefs. Philosophically speaking feminism is the movement
for the political, social, and educational equality of women with men.
ontology of feminism is that there is a ‘reality’ that has been created and
shaped by social, political, cultural, economic, ethnic and gender-based forces
that have evolved over time into social structures that are accepted as
natural, cultural or in different other ways justified.
issues range from access to employment, education, child care, contraception,
and abortion, to equality in the workplace, changing family roles, redress,
sexual harassment in the workplace, and the need for equal political
basic epistemological principles of feminism include the taking of women and
gender as the focus of analysis; the importance of consciousness-raising; the
rejection of subject and object (valuing the knowledge held by the participants
as being expert knowledge and acknowledging how research valued as ‘objective’
always reflects a specific social and historical standpoint); a concern with
ethics and an intention to empower women and change power relations and
the above philosophy as a basis, research in support of the interests of women
aims to emancipate women and improve their lives. The aim of research on women
is to clarify bias and inequity in the way that women are treated in various
social settings, such as the workplace, universities, sport, etc. and to fill
the gaps in our knowledge about women. Even though feminism is mostly directed
at achieving equality between women and men, it also argues that women think
and express themselves differently from men.
is characterised by its double dimension and diversity. As opposed to
traditional research, its objectives include both the construction of new
knowledge and the production of social change. It assumes that woman are
oppressed in society, therefore research is used to help reduce such
terms of diversity, feminism can be multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and
transdisciplinary; it uses different methodologies and it is constantly being
redefined by the concerns of women coming from different perspectives. In terms
of being multidisciplinary feminism can utilise knowledge borrowed from any
other discipline that is relevant to the topic and purpose of the research. In
terms of being interdisciplinary feminism can analyse, synthesise, harmonise
and ultimately link the knowledge borrowed from other disciplines to integrate
and systematise findings into a coherent whole. Transdisciplinary refers to
feminist research contributing to and sharing knowledge with other disciplines. Feminism, therefore,
requires that issues such as antiracism, diversity, democratic decision making
and the empowerment of women are addressed in any field of study where a
gender-related issue calls for research.
terms of research methodology feminism actively seeks to remove the power
imbalance between research and subject; it is politically motivated in that it
seeks to change social inequality and it begins with the standpoint and
experiences of women. Feminism uses a wide variety of research methods,
including methods belonging with the qualitative research approach, methods
belonging with the quantitative approach and mixed methods. A qualitative
approach is mostly favoured because it lends itself better to reflect the
measure of human experience without focusing too strongly on males while
neglecting the role of women in a particular social, economic, political or
Feminism shares an academic as well as an affective link with
neoliberalism, post-colonialism, critical theory, critical race theory,
romanticism and post-structuralism, seeing that all of them deal with issues of
inequality and discrimination.
Although both feminism and structuralism deal with power relations
between people, feminism seldom uses the rigorous approach to research that is
typical of structuralism. Ironically the unemotional and clinical approach that
is typical of structuralism might be what is needed to elevate feminism to a
more generally accepted research paradigm.
main objection to feminism as a research paradigm is not that it is invalid or
irrelevant, as some might claim, but rather that the very supporters of the
philosophy are causing damage by the emotional manner in which it is put
forward. The way in which it is applied and the spirit in which people write
about feminism is often overly emotional and devoid of academic substance. In feminist
research, arguments are not always supported by corroborating evidence, and
findings are superficial and subjective. Feminism is often used as the grounds
for advocacy campaigns rather than academic research. The development of
knowledge and theory is overshadowed by subjective philosophical points of
view. These points of criticism, however, probably refer more to the attitude
and motivation of some individual researchers and should not be seen as general
characteristics of feminism.
to the above argument is the fact that by emphasising the equality of genders
we might well be denying both men and women certain privileges and rights that
go with such differences. Men and women are different in ways that, if not
respected and taken into consideration, can also lead to unfairness. Pregnancy,
for example, dictates that women should have certain rights that men might not
be entitled to or need, although even this is a contentious argument for some.
closing, feminism is research done by, for and about women. In research
feminism seeks to include women in the research process, to focus on the
meanings women give to their world while recognising that research must often
be conducted within universities that are still patriarchal.
http://encyclopedia2.thefreedcitionary.com/Feminist+paradigm. Accessed on
 Adapted from
https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/grad5104/… Accessed on 07/02/2019.