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Oppression derives from the concept of being weighted down, and is often depicted as such. Here, a cartoon Jew labors under the metaphorical oppression of the Russian Tsar

Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.[1] It can also be defined as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed, and the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, and anxiety.

Contents

Social oppression

Social oppression has in recent times been an epiphenomenon of various types of social dysfunction, whereby discrimination against an identified group is stimulated, encouraged and reinforced by way of promoting antagonism towards the Other. The term itself is derived, in a direct experiential sense, from the sensation of being pushed or lifted up by a greatly superior force.

Systematic oppression

Anarchists and other forms of libertarian, at either end of the political spectrum, argue that police and law themselves are oppression. The term oppression is primarily used in such instances to refer to the subordination of a given group or social category by unjust use of force, authority, or societal norms in order to achieve the effects noted above. When institutionalized, formally or informally, it may achieve the dimension of systematic oppression. Oppression is customarily experienced as a consequence of, and expressed in, the form of a prevailing, if unconscious, assumption that the given target is in some way inferior. Oppression is rarely limited solely to formal government action: an individual may be the particular focus of oppression or persecution and in such circumstances have no group membership in which to share, and thus maybe mitigate, the burden of ostracism.

In psychology, racism, sexism and other prejudices are often studied as individual beliefs which, although not necessarily oppressive in themselves, can lead to oppression if they are codified in law or become parts of a culture. By comparison, in sociology, these prejudices are often studied as being institutionalized systems of oppression in some societies. In sociology, the tools of oppression include a progression of denigration, dehumanization, and demonization; which often generate scapegoating, which is used to justify aggression against targeted groups and individuals.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the concept of Human Rights in general were designed to limit oppression by giving a clear articulation of what fundamental freedoms any system should allow to all of the people over whom it has power.

When oppression is systematized through coercion, threats of violence, or violence by government agencies or non-government paramilitiaries with a political motive, it is often called Political repression. More subtle forms of political oppression/repression can be produced by blacklisting or individualized investigations such as happened during McCarthyism in the United States.

Transnational systems of oppression include colonialism, imperialism, and totalitarianism, and can generate a resistance movement to challenge the oppressive status quo.

Internalized oppression

In sociology and psychology, internalized oppression is the manner in which an oppressed group comes to use against itself the methods of the oppressor. For example, sometimes members of marginalized groups hold an oppressive view toward their own group, or start to believe in negative stereotypes of themselves.

For example, internalized racism is when members of Group A believe that the stereotypes of Group A are true and may believe that they are less intelligent or academically inferior to other groups of people.

Any social group can internalize prejudice.

Indirect oppression

Indirect oppression is oppression that is effected by psychological attack, situational constraints or other indirect means. It has been a popular tactic practiced in single power, power monopoly or other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

Resistance

Several movements have arisen that specifically aim to oppose, analyse and counter oppression in general; examples include Liberation Theology in the Christian world, and Re-evaluation Counselling in the psychotherapeutic arena. Modern-day groups that actively oppose oppression include Ligali, a British African organization headed by civil rights activist Toyin Agbetu.

See also

References

External links

Bibliography

  • Guillaumin, Colette. 1995. Racism, Sexism, Power and Ideology. London: Routledge.
  • Hobgood, Mary Elizabeth. 2000. Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.
  • Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth. 1996. The Anatomy of Prejudices. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Noël, Lise. 1994. Intolerance, A General Survey. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
  • Felice, William F. 1996. Taking Suffering Seriously: The Importance of Collective Human Rights. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Smith, Morgan. 2008. Why I stick it to the man, and why you should too. New York: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Omi, Michael and Howard Winant. 1994. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. New York: Routledge.
  • Feagin, Joe R. and Hernan Vera. 1995. White Racism: The Basics. New York: Routledge.
  • Pincus, Fred L. 1999 and Howard J. Ehrlich, eds. 1999. Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence. Boulder, Colo.: Westview.
  • Beck, Aaron, M.D. 1999 Prisoners Of Hate. New York: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr, "The Gulag Archipelago," Harper and Row, 1973
  • Kiernan, Ben, "The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79," Yale University Press, 1996
  • Cudd, Ann E. 2006. Analyzing Oppression. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Deutsch, Morton. 2006. A Framework for Thinking about Oppression and Its Change. "Social Justice Research", Vol. 19, No.1, March 2006, pp. 7-41.
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Simple English

File:1904 Russian Tsar-Stop your cruel oppression of the Jews-LOC
Oppression comes from the concept of being weighted down, and is often shown as such. This cartoon from 1904 shows Jewish laborers which are oppressed by the Russian Tsar

Oppression is when a person or group of people who have power use it in a way that is not fair, unjust or cruel. It can also describe the feeling of people who are oppressed. Oppressive governments can lead to a rebellion.

Racism, sexism and other prejudices can cause oppression, especially if laws are made based on them.

Anarchists say that government, the police and laws are oppressive. This is because they stop people from doing whatever they want to.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the idea of human rights in general, is meant to stop oppression.


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