Oppression is the antithesis of, and greatest threat to, justice. Oppression is a significant barrier to a society’s quest to be well and healthy. There is continued discrimination against women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, immigrants, and Muslims. This book provides a basic introduction to the psychology of oppression that will be useful in making oppression and social justice education more accessible to more people. It is very timely as it may reach and inform a wider range of people about various forms of oppression and how they influence peoples’ psychological experiences. The book is organized into ten chapters. The first three chapters focus on the fundamentals of oppression. Chapter one provides a brief overview of what oppression is. Chapter two deals with historically and contemporarily oppressed social groups. Chapter three presents historical and contemporary oppression. The next three chapters discuss some of the layers and complexities of oppression. Chapter four covers the evolution of oppression and how oppression may be expressed blatantly or subtly and overtly or covertly. Chapter five describes the three Is of oppression: interpersonal, institutional, and internalized. Chapter six presents the psychological and mental health implications of oppression. The chapters 7 through 9, discuss why oppression exists and continues to persist throughout history. Chapter seven presents the social psychological theories on the existence and persistence of oppression. Chapter eight and nine describes addressing oppression in both clinical and community contexts. The final chapter presents some suggestions about future psychological work on oppression across research, clinical, and community contexts.
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We —hopefully—have a basic understanding of the what, who, how, where, and when of oppression. But what about the so what? The chapter discusses the “so what” by providing an overview of the psychological and mental health implications of oppression. The case of the Filipino man and his neighbor that was presented in the chapter suggests that Filipinos may be stereotypically seen as uncivilized savages who move to the United States and drain the country’s resources. It is very well documented that marginalized groups face various health concerns. The increasing body of research on racial health disparities, for example, suggests that members of marginalized groups often face alarmingly higher risks for developing health concerns and face more barriers in the system that keeps them from getting quality health care than members of dominant or privileged groups.
- Go to chapter: Beyond Laboratories, Clinics, and Classrooms: Community Efforts to Address Oppression
This chapter describes the subfield of community psychology along with some ways we can facilitate civil action or social change processes on a larger scale—beyond just individual-level therapeutic value—as attempts to reclaim power and reappropriate the responsibility of addressing oppression from the oppressed to the systems of oppression. It discusses community psychology, its guiding principles, and how such principles may be helpful in addressing oppression and follow this with some recent and ongoing examples of how the field of psychology can go beyond our conventional roles as researchers, clinicians, and educators to help our society address oppression and become more just, fair, and healthy. The chapter ends with some tips on how we can remain steadfast in our social change efforts. To help us deal with seemingly inevitable desolation, discomfort, and pain, the chapter shares one of the best strengths of community psychologists: our inclination and capacity to embrace paradox.
- Go to chapter: Future Directions: Some Suggestions for the Continued Growth of Psychological Work on Oppression
Although there seemingly is a lot of research, clinical efforts, and community work that have already been done on oppression, it does not mean that we now understand everything about it and that we know exactly how to best address it. Indeed, there are still plenty of gaps and holes in our understanding of oppression, and there is still plenty of work to do in the field of psychology to build on what we have now and continue to contribute to our society’s collective efforts to eliminate oppression. In other words, there are still plenty of ways for psychology to help address oppression and help create a more fair, just, and healthy society! To this end, the authors close the book with some general suggestions for the continued growth of psychological work on oppression.