Oppression and Power

Oppression and Power

explains how prejudice and discrimination are not the whole story. We move beyond individuals and take readers on an examination of prejudice and discrimination at the group level. We introduce the concept of power, which transforms group prejudice into oppression, and define terms such as dominant group and minoritized group. This chapter also explains the difference between concepts such as race prejudice, which anyone can hold, and racism, which occurs at the group level and is only perpetuated by the group that holds social, ideological, economic, and institutional power. The chapter explains the “ism” words (for example racism, sexism, classism) and how these words allow us to capture structural power as it manifests in particular forms of oppression.

Chapter 6: Understanding Privilege Through Ableism explains the

rights, benefits, and advantages automatically received by being a member of the dominant group, regardless of intentions. From a critical social justice perspective, privilege is systemically conferred dominance and the institutional processes by which the beliefs and values of the dominant group are made “normal” and universal. While in some cases the privileged group is also the numerical majority, numbers are not the key criterion; the key criterion is social and institutional power. This chapter also explains related concepts such as internalized oppression and internalized dominance, and offers examples of how these dynamics work to hold existing relations of power in place.

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