Why Demographics Matter in the Political Representation of Racial Minority Groups: A Standpoint Epistemology and Visibility Account
Researcher ORCID Identifier
Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Public Affairs
© 2022 Sophie Grossman
Do demographics matter in the political representation of racial minority groups, and if so, how should we understand and enhance our understanding of effective representation? This thesis aims to explore concepts surrounding how to best advocate for historically marginalized communities within the public policymaking process through the lens of standpoint epistemology and visibility. I begin by sharing my personal experiences as a young Asian American woman interested in politics, as well as a case study of two congressional representatives that serve similar constituencies, Representative Katie Porter and Young Kim.
I will then introduce a theoretical approach termed standpoint epistemology, as first conceptualized by feminist scholars. Drawing on Karl Marx and W.E.B Du Bois’ work in class and race consciousness, I will highlight how standpoint theory emphasizes one’s social role in gaining knowledge, and how that connection can supplement the representation of constituencies with various standpoints and experiences. Next, I discuss the importance of diverse visibility in spaces such as public office, and the positive effects it has on fostering trust and inspiring a future generation of leaders. This understanding will be complemented by an analysis of recent Supreme Court cases that have affirmed the value of diversity. Lastly, I will reflect on the lessons learned from both accounts to an analysis on how demographics matter in representation, as seen through Representative Porter and Kim’s legislative records.
Grossman, Sophie, "Why Demographics Matter in the Political Representation of Racial Minority Groups: A Standpoint Epistemology and Visibility Account" (2023). CMC Senior Theses. 3195.