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Oppression is the painful experience of deliberate arbitrariness , violence and abuse of power inflicted on an individual , a society or a group of people . The term repression is often used synonymously for this .

The term suppression primarily denotes the holding down of a certain social group and individuals through the abusive use of social organs , their authority or other social measures. More or less officially institutionalized in a society , this can grow into “systematic oppression”.

Oppression arises from the general, also unconscious, assumption that a certain group of people is inferior or without rights. Oppression is seldom limited to governmental activities. Individuals can also be victims of oppression if they lack the solidarity of a social group.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the concept of human rights were formulated as a criticism of oppression, in which all power is clearly limited and an abuse of power against an individual or a group of people is sanctioned.

Psychology of oppression

In psychology , racism , sexism and other prejudice- based forms of discrimination are regarded as belief systems that, although not necessarily oppressive on their own, can lead to oppression once they are put into practice or legally prescribed . In sociology , these prejudices are often seen as institutionalized systems of oppression in certain societies. The instruments of oppression are defamation , perhorrescence and demonization , which often create a scapegoat mechanism that is supposed to justify attacks on certain groups and individuals.

Political repression

If suppression is systematized, through coercion, threatened or exercised violence, on the part of the state or paramilitary non-official organizations, it is called political persecution . More subtle forms of political oppression can be black lists or ideologically motivated hysteria and persecution, such as McCarthyism in the USA.

Hierarchy of oppression

A hierarchy of oppression is a ranking ( hierarchy ) of different repressive measures according to arbitrariness and cruelty or the negative experiences suffered by oppressed communities. Hierarchies of oppression are considered problematic by many human rights activists, although certain hierarchies of oppression are widespread. Certain Marxist positions have been criticized for considering class oppression as more important than other forms of oppression, since this is the main contradiction in society, whereas oppression of women is only a secondary contradiction in society. In the meantime, it has also been criticized that a "view that is widespread in women's research [...] [constructs] a hierarchy of suppression in which racial discrimination is declared to be a secondary contradiction." The hierarchy of suppression is often also referred to as the "hierarchy of discrimination", which it follows, for example, in Europe a decision of the European Parliament to discriminate against people with disabilities .

A black lesbian woman can appear more repressed than a white straight woman. Nevertheless, politically and socially engaged activists and theorists find such hierarchizations of oppression unproductive, as they can prevent coalitions of oppressed groups and individuals. A hierarchization of oppression can also lead to a hierarchization of blame. Under a hierarchy of oppression, a group of black lesbians is unlikely to form a coalition with a group of predominantly white heterosexual feminists because of a hierarchy of needs and different perceptions of oppression.

The hierarchy of suppression is mainly criticized in the multiple suppression approach and intersectionality research (intersection).

Resistance to oppression

Transnational systems of oppression such as colonialism or imperialism can provoke resistance movements against the state of oppression.

See also


Web links

Commons : Suppression (oppression)  - Images and media files
Wiktionary: Suppression  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Helma Lutz: "Racism and Sexism, Differences and Similarities."
  2. Resolution of the European Parliament. November 30, 2006.
  3. Audre Lorde : There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Homophobia and Education. Council on Interracial Books for Children, New York 1983.
  4. Warren J. Blumenfeld: "How Does Homophobia Hurt Us All?" ( Memento of the original from December 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. 1992. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / case.edu