Understanding Oppression: A Critical Evaluation of Key Concepts and Major Authors

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Understanding Oppression: A Critical Evaluation of Key Concepts and Major Authors
González, Stefanie S.
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This paper seeks to understand oppression through a psychosocial lens that explains in part the fundamental elements underlining the rise of oppression. It begins with a review of the literature on oppression and outlines some critical authors with their analysis regarding persecution and their assessment of its effects. This examination accounts for multiple layers of the social structure and oppression's place within society. It reveals a dichotomous relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. This relationship materializes itself through a superior and inferior complex, a hate and fear association, and finally a pleasure and pain response. ( en )
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Awarded Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, Major: Psychology, and Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, Major: Sociology, on May 2, 2018.
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College or School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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Advisor: Charles Gattone. Advisor Department or School: Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law

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UNDERSTANDING OPPRESSION: A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF KEY CONCEPTS AND MAJOR AUTHORS By STEFANIE S. GONZALEZ Undergraduate Thesis Presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology University of Florida Gainesville, FL May 2018 Approved by: Dr. Charles Gattone Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law


Abstract This paper seeks to understand oppression through a psychosocial lens that explains in part the fundamental elements underlining the rise of oppression. It begins with a review of the literature on oppression and outlines some critical authors with their a nalysis regarding persecution and their assessment of its effects. This examination accounts for multiple layers of the social structure and oppression's place within society. It reveals a dichotomous relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. This relationship materializes itself through a superior and inferior complex, a hate and fear association, and finally a pleasure and pain response.


1 Understanding Oppression: A Critical Evaluation of Key Concepts and Major Authors Social oppre ssion is a concept that is widely agreed upon by sociologists to be an unequal relationship of authority and subservience between groups of people in which one group holds an advantageous position over the other. Although individual oppression exists, this is different from social oppression as the latter tends to be more involved when numerous members of a governing group develop rules that carry out severe effects. Oppression prospers when a dominant group establishes norms, laws, and regulations that fun ction as tools to maintain control over other group s of people. These sets of rules control parts of the narrative and the way of life for many of the oppressed individuals within society. While oppressed groups are beleaguer ed and are met with hostility, dominant group s tend to benefit from increased resources to improve the quality of their own lives. Oppression emerges in all levels of a society where different groups are label ed into sections and categories, and the dominant struc tures usually act wit h negative behaviors toward the Other in relation to the label imparted upon the oppressed These categories of oppression place people in different social positions such as race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and ability. The concept of oppression b ecomes more complicated when looking at the intersection of these categories and the effects it has on members who face multiple levels of persecution. Ultimately, what many sociologists and historians have found throughout time and across different cultur es is that the more distinctive a group is from the dominant group, the more likely the dominant group is to oppress the foreign faction. While many are aware of how oppression functions and thrives in everyday life, some are not cognizant of this dynami c and point to less informed explanations for a group's subjection. Oppression can camouflage and blend into society by appearing to be fair and just while


2 conveying the notion that dominant groups have earned their power because they are smarter, superior or more deserving of their advantageous positions. These techniques of oppression have become institutionalized in many cultures, where governments create policies that continue to reward dominant groups. As the dominant group continues to benefit from this uneven power exchange, unconscious discrimination against the oppressed is established and normalized, regardless of whether or not members of the dominant groups actively reject a marginalized group. This paper seeks to understand oppression through a critical examination of fundamental concepts and principal authors who detail different levels of oppression and offer possible causes for its existence. The authors chosen for this examination provide a varied array of opinions and ideas, but ultimately focus on the human condition and the consequences oppression may have on different groups. Although it is difficult to mention every notable author who has ever written about persecution, this paper focuses on broad and general ideas, some well known and others not, that seek to gather a comprehensive and full analysis of the concept of social oppression. Although there is no single root cause of social and systematic abuse that is agreed upon by all of these authors, there is much agreement regarding th e effects of such oppression on the human psyche. Through this examination, this paper outlines three fundamental prerequisites to be in place of such a social and generational oppression to occur. Key Concepts from Principal Authors Jason Chen's (2017) paper detailing the core of oppression offers a useful starting point to fully assess oppression as he details seven possible explanations for oppression: political, economic, freedom, and social deprivation as well as psychological harm a deprived capabi lity


3 of self development, or a combination of the six. Although Chen offers a detailed description of each of the seven rationalizations, he rules these out by providing hypothetical cases of possible oppression without any evidence to support his claims. When he does this, he places his own biases into his work and ignores historical evidence. For example, Chen rules out social deprivation because he believes that dehumanization is not a core element of oppression because it cannot explain a society where men and women are equal yet uphold different gender roles. Chen neither names this society nor the effects that such a society or gender roles may have on women's psyche or if gendered violence may continue to exist within such a community. Chen, therefore ignores layers of subjection that are critical to understanding oppression. Although his paper offers a solid starting point from which to understand oppression, his warrantless claims do not provide much else to the expansion of the topic. Chen points t o other authors who may provide a better understanding in a different perspective. Ann Cudd (2006) and Kenneth Clatterbaugh (1992), for example, discuss varying beliefs of humanity and explain how dehumanization can be used as a tool to continually oppress a group of people. Cudd suggests that the abilities needed to live more fully can be socially learned, and a denial of those abilities can be a tool of oppression. In combination with Clatterbaugh's belief that dehumanization is a denial of a people's abi lity to perform human' acts or learn them in the first place is a good account as to the ways some people throughout history have been denied humanity. History points to extreme cases of oppression such as slavery when the black body was treated as litera l cattle and considered 3/5th of a person in early American history. This denial of humanity acts as a means of political, social, and freedom deprivation that continues to affect people today.


4 Drawing on Orlando Patterson's (1982) theory of social death, it is evident that oppression can occur at the hands of denying people the privileges in social life using its privileges instead as tools to continue one's oppression. According to his theory, social death has internal and external effects on the enslaved people. This effect limit s their power and change s their viewpoint to coincide with that of the master. Externally, the enslaved would no longer have their identity and agency, including losing their names, cultural practices, and religion. This action would alienate slaves and make them more dependent on the master. Physical violence from the master was also seen as a tool to enforce the master's will upon the slave, and this gradually created a self blame model from the perspective of the slave. Interviews with former slaves show a self blame narrative where they impute themselves while stating that they are assigned the masters they deserve (Patterson, p. 92). Society often places a stronghold on the minds of the oppressed and forces them to relinquish their agency throughout generations in such a way that the oppressed believe their repression is the norm. This analysis brings us to the work of earlier thinkers who have written a bout oppression. In particular, Friedrich Nietzsche developed ideas that continue to influence this discussion in the present. Nietzsche suggested that oppression is an integral part of the human condition (Antonio 1995) Per his work, the less one knows h ow to command, the more he or she feel s the need to find a radical leader In the context of understanding power, it is evident that the less power one holds, the more power they want a representative leader to yield and the more wil l ing they are t o adhere to the leader's commands and values This extreme conformation coupled with resentment for others makes the perfect foundation for the creation of a tyrannical leader. This need for a n authoritarian figure fosters the moral regulation of inferior culture s' that is animated by resentment both inward against the blameworthy and outward against the collective enemies.


5 Calculated resentment toward a particular group transforms them into targets for abuse without any specific or apparent reason. Removing reaso n from bitterness then adds to the idea that the anger is justified and can be normalized. To further expand this point, this moral regulation materializes through concepts like religion. Christianity, for example, offers a system of value that rewards the good and obedient people by promising them passage to Heaven, while gaining respect and trust from others in their community. Meanwhile, this same system punishes those who do not obey the rules or those who choose to follow a false God,' labeling them as non believers' placing the belief that they deserve eternal punishment. Non believers are also shunned socially by the dominant group and face a public penalty for their beliefs. The Moorish and Jewish communities, for example, were either avoided or met with physical violence against their views. Historically this resentment toward others could be seen in the most extreme light during the Spanish Inquisition when the Spanish Crown set up institutions and hired militant officers of the faith to convert others by any means necessary. Historical counts of how religion functions within oppressi on show us an interesting observation that Nietzsche could not explain. If a dominant culture is disturbed by the Other, then it makes sense to convert them into the prevailing belief system. However, the resentment and fear towards them inevitably make su ch tolerance for them impossible. While erasing their culture and belief system by forcing them to join the dominant group would be an effective way to control them, the intolerance of the dominant culture is still present, regardless of how well they have erased the Other's culture. This ideology makes any genuine conversion unmanageable and thus is only a tool to create some distance between the dominant culture and those they label as inferior. Since the dominant culture can control and force conversion of others


6 to their religion and value systems, it is easier to control the narrative and force others to believe that the dominant group is meant to hold power. Nietzsche used the notion of a master morality that explains how people in socially advantageou s groups see the world. He criticized the view that everything that is thought to be good is helpful and everything that is perceived as bad is necessarily harmful. He concludes that there are no moral phenomena and instead only interpretations of morality These interpretations allow for the existence of a master morality that values pride and strength while the slave morality values humility and sympathy. The master morality evaluates life on consequences of other's actions while the slave morality holds value within the intentions of the actors involved. Since the slave morality explains that the slave values the aims behind actions rather than the act itself, there is room to doubt whether the slave remains complacent in an abusive power relationship whe re the master's intentions are good, but their methods are violent. Hannah Arendt (2017) expands Nietzsche's idea to explain how the Jewish people were used as a scapegoat for Nazi nationalism. Arendt argues that neither oppression nor exploitation seem to be the primary cause for such resentment, and instead turns to wealth without any visible function as a phenomenon that fosters such ingrained hatred because it is hard to understand why it should be tolerated. Since wealth is often associated with powe r, when a people do not utilize their wealth as a tool to gain power and superiority over others, the public is ironically inclined to revolt in preemption of a shift in power. Arendt's explanation of the origins of that resentment leaves open the possibi lity that any one group could have been used as the scapegoat for Nazi Germany, and the Jewish peo ple were targeted because of latent stereotypes that were already ingrained in that society. However, instead of this idea, Arendt focuses on the concept of eternal anti Semitism" to explain this gratuit ous violence on one people.


7 This can be a dangerous view since it is easily proven false and can absolve Nazis of their crimes by depicting hatred as a norm. This concept is especiall y troubling when looking a t it from a Jewish perspective. If eternal anti Semitism is authentic, then there should be in every corner of the world and throughout history, a collective hatred for the Jewish people. Without any other explanation, one comes to think that there must be something within Jewish culture, or within the Jewish character that produces this resentment and contempt. This assumption leads the Jewish people to believe, much like former slaves that Patterson interviewed, that they deserve psychological and physica l violence because it is connected to something they have done or earned from the world. Todd Gitlin (1980) explains the role of institutions that f rame this morality in his book The Whole World is Watching in which he focuses on their predisposed need to keep certain people in power over others. When movements are televised in the media as retaliation to oppressive regimes and power struggles, the media often depict the marching and violent revolts rather than the reasons behind the uprisings. Gitlin also proposes that the more closely the values of social movements coincide with those of the elites, the more it will frame media coverage. This riles up a growing need for further policing and militancy groups to uphold the social order because they feel thr eatened by the actions of those without power. Gitlin's idea does not explain the root of the problem but instead describes how circular the problem can be since the system was made to keep itself thriving. The m edia and those in power want their audience s to be distracted by the revolts and violent movements without informing them what the unions stand for unless they are a self identified terrorist organization whose aim is to becom e more televised. When the media willingly uphold information and shroud movements in mystery, they use fear as a tool to sell more airtime and gain a broader


8 audience. Without knowing a cause, and only seeing the violence the organization or movement m ay bring, viewer s can be misled to the point where they are inclined to side with the party in power and those feeding them the information. This may create infighting between groups who may feel that they are informed but only have access to half of the story. Psychology suggests people weigh facts or information differently, especially when they appear to be personally threatening. Ditto and David F. Lopez (1992) propose we interpret facts differently if they challenge our values or beliefs. In this way, "alternative facts" are ways that people continue to argue over details and miss the bigger picture. By using the facts they agree with more, they argue against each other and ignore the institutions that have provided them with the information. Michel Foucault was a key contributor in this discussion in that he presented the idea of a dominant discourse created by those in power as it becomes the means to address and view those without power (Hannah 2014). This dialogue creates a rationalization and shift in the collective consciousness throughout the population that allows fo r the continual subjugation of a group of people. This explains Arendt's description of the Jewish people being used as a scapegoat for the Nazi regime since there were latent stereotypes in the culture that were created and maintained by the society's dom inant discourse. This discourse rarely describ es the perspective of the Other that addresses their experience but is instead usually coated with negative stereotypes and extreme categories. Propaganda, scare tactics, and other governmental techniques to p romote the elite's agenda are all tools that can be used to legitimate this discourse. Arendt argues that power left to itself can only garner more power and will not stop until there is nothing left to violate or oppress. Framed this way, power is endless and with no cause.


9 This analysis, however, leaves ample room for doubt. Even if governments and elite hold the power to shape and sustain a particular discourse, there must be a reason to use it as t ools to begin with. This makes one question the ends tha t power can meet without a goal or if that goal can ever be achieved. Since Arendt does not sufficiently explain this idea in terms of a possible or hypothetical ending, we are left to question whether those i n power believe there is an end and if that bel ief motivates them to garner more power. Martha Minow (2000) approaches the notion of a power discourse by detailing the origins of those differences in power and how privilege affects communication. She suggests that some pitfalls from dominant discourse s assume that any differences between groups are intrinsic and describe each group accurately. Through her view, the power discourse can affect communication not only between those in power and those without power but even how it affects discussion within the members of the groups. She suggests that this communication is flawed and leads to further oppression since the discourse assumes other perspectives are irrelevant and that norms are well known even without a view of society. Finally, she suggests anot her pitfall is how this discourse assumes the status quo is natural and right These unconscious assumptions interfere with power dynamics in ways that have not been expressed by other authors. Although other authors have critiqued and explained blatant f orms of oppression, Minow offers a perspective that goes deeper than surface level domination. This means that even if a group in power wants to help those without power, the way they view the validity of the Other's claim is always shrouded by their own p rivilege and perspective. Minow's theory provides explanations about how one's embodiment and epistemology can affect how they negatively communicate with others, regardless of their intentions.


10 Many of these authors have offered a substantial starting f oundation upon which to base our overall understanding of oppression and how it functions not only between the dominant forces and the oppressed but even within themselves. Although they have offered a concrete understanding of how oppression functions, th eir work can be developed further by taking a closer look at some of the underlying contributing factors to oppression that can occur within the human psyche. This paper questions whether the need to oppress is a condition of humanity and if society can ex ist without oppressive governments or actors. Superiority and Inferiority Government officials typically view the management of the social order as a necessity. They often express the need to control groups of people under the guise of protecting them from the danger of the Other.' This is supplemented by media efforts to expand their audiences by painting the Other as a separate and potentially dangerous entity. When governments and media do this collectively, they draw an imaginary line that characte rizes the local population as "good" and everyone else as bad. They often use fear and despair to manipulate members of the community into accepting this dividing line as valid and as given. One example where this occurred is in Venezuela where the elites turned its citizens against each other for food, shelter, and protection. President Maduro consolidated his authority and rigged the economy to keep himself and his political allies in power, offering an unprecedented rate of bolivars to dollars that were inaccessible to the average citizen. Most people were thus forced to obtain their resources from the black market at an inflated rate (Gillespie 2017). Because the elites sold the supplies they garnered at a high price on the black market, the government c aused indirect intercommunal violence, where the citizens fought each


11 other for the resources they could not afford. The subsequent result is groups of average citizens holding one another at gunpoint and taking what little resources the others had acquire d from the government. Although many did blame the government for their predicament, they remained in a position where they could only fight against each other for resources. This enhanced president Maduro's ability to aggrieve members of the population without any possibility of reprisals. In this way, the ability to oppress became a right given by social means that was explicitly created by the standing president. This is an example of a situation where a political leader is able to harm others while de claring it as the natural order. This order is framed as a right by institutional authorities. Since these authorities have a stronger voice with the most significant audience, their interpretations and symbolic power hold the most sway over society, and p eople in the general population are more likely to follow their same values, even when they are against one's self interest. Another example can be seen in the Cuban healthcare system where doctors were forced to travel around the world to maintain a positi ve image of the government. O fficials kept doctor s families' hostage to ensure that the doctors would return home and not dwell in the country where they were sent ( The Guardian 2010 ) Even when a government tries to build its credibility with other foreign officials, they maintain the self proclaimed right and power to manipulate its citizens to act in a way that benefits them from afar. We can see the quest for superiority and domination most notably in historical accounts of past oppressive regime s like monarchies or in concepts like Manifest Destiny, where religion was used as a tool to mark some bodies worthy of power while others were deemed unable to take care of themselves. This logic follows each kingdom's rationalization of conquering land b ecause of the fear that rulers have of losing their birthright power. Much of their reasoning


12 stems from the ability to survive by capturing and destroying others. This is rooted in the negative perspective of the Other and the positive perspective of the self. Such a power imbalance may not always cause direct adverse consequences or even ste m from harmful intentions. T here are often latent stereotypes that are upheld by the public and society when referring to the Other. For example, the magazine National Geographic has had a history of fetishizing and objectifying third world nations, often painting them a s "cute" or "savages" in relation to the dominant Western culture ( Jackson 2018 ). Although this does not blatantly claim the superiority of West ern civilization it furthers the narrative that supports a dominant power discourse. This co ntributes to people in Western s ociety gaining a sense of superiority based on a misunderstanding of other cultures and the perception that foreign groups are infe rior relative to the dominant society. This idea can transfer to stereotypes of people and allows for continued oppressive behaviors from the ones who see themselves as superior. Alt hough some actors in dominant groups may fight to end systemic oppression either through laws of activism, such as National Geographic's mission of educating masses on different cultures, they inevitably fail because of the epistemology behind their methods. Minow offers an in depth explanation of the validity of the Other conc erning the perspective of the Superior. For example, the US policy action of "Ban the Box," had good intentions as it outlawed the practice of asking o n a job application about the applicant's prior criminal convictions in hopes to allow for higher employment rates for ex convicts. This action, however, encouraged employers to assume the criminal record of the applicants instead and thus lead to a lower rate of black and latinx indiv iduals employed at each company (Hernandez 2017). Even if actions done by the ones in control try to level the power relations in a government structure, the dominant powers are typically too heavily engrained in all levels of society. Although dominant


13 gr oups can be aware of their oppressive behaviors, many remain out of touch with the advantages in their lives that are indirectly connected to violence affecting other groups of people. One of the possible actions that can end this dynamic lies in an erasu re of supremacy within a society through self destructive measures. A group in power is unlikely to relinquish that power freely unless another force acts upon them to create a new power structure. However, if the dominant group abandons that power in favo r of a more democratic and socialist method, then the power may be more evenly distributed. If the extraction of power is reached through violent means instead of an act of self sacrifice, it is more likely that the new government structure will continue t o produce and exert comparable oppressive behaviors. Similar to concepts like Manifest Destiny or monarchs, oppressed groups begin to look inward to notice the behaviors that may cause their own subjugation. This is not to say that oppressed individuals p roduce their own oppression, but rather the system in place can lead them to believe that their situation is just. Patterson's concept of social death plays a significant role in providing an understanding of this phenomenon. We realize, through Cudd, that human ability and tools to claim agency are socially learned. When oppressed people are denied the means or education to learn how to control their agency in the face of a dominant culture, they are inclined to internalize the disability and assume that t he status quo is good and neutral. When slaves blamed themselves for "behaving badly" or as "deserving" of the violence, they fe ll in line with the narratives painted by the Superior. These feelings can be amplified or intensified in individuals through th e discouragement or failure that society instills in them. This is made evident in how they are treated either through macroaggressions or outright violence. The threat of being beaten either socially or physically impaired stops them from acting or reclai ming


14 agency and can convince the slave that they are safest being inferior to the aggressor. Accepting this inferiority thus becomes a matter of pure survival. This mediocrity can become problematic within the oppressed groups when they struggle to assert power within their communities. Minority groups in the United States often form ad hoc power structures within their own communities t o engage in self policing and evade harm from superior groups. They participate in respectability politics that assume a t rade off with pieces of their identity and encourage assimilation into the dominant structures. The problem emerges when issues like racism or sexism arise. No amount of adaptation can engage with the dominant groups entirely because of the physical differ ences that distinguish the dominant group from the Other. This means that any claim about socioeconomic status and the economy being a root cause of oppression is either flawed or misleading. This kind of self policing can also be seen within the academy, where the oppressors' education strengthens their own narrative by keeping the Other from engaging in "unsafe" topics that have the potential to undermine the power dynamics in society broadly There exists an academic capitalism that has restructured higher education through funding streams and regulations that tie it to the market. If the political beliefs of faculty members do not coincide with the image the university tries to produce and a dvertise for students and increased funds, then the academy can contain opposition to control the image and production of the institution by threatening to fire or cut funding from faculty. This keeps minorities within the faculty engaging in actions that police themselves to ensure they receive proper financing to participate in research or classes that are beneficial to the power structures already in place. This academic dialogue is constructed in opposition to the alleged pathologies of the Other who co ntinue to be policed whether they engage in the discussion or not.


15 This analysis brings us back to Nietzsche's slave morality which holds pessimistic and fearful values that serve those who suffer the same way as the Other. He suggested that by rejectin g the legitimacy of inequalities, the slave can attain a method of freedom and use this to overcome inferiority. This method only places the responsibility to break the mold on the oppressed and remains silent on the question of humanity and whether a cult ure can exist without oppression in the first place. Placing the responsibility on the blamed leaves the Superior feeling like it is a natural order, and there are no consequences to the action of holding powe r above others. A cultural narrative informed o n this morality is one that continues to favor the Master perspective because their descriptions are continually defining the Other. Donald Trump's presidential campaign, for example, was run on the idea that he does not like "losers" and that those who f ail deserve their loss. This falls in line with the Master morality in that the people in power are those who create what is valuable in society. Therefore, the term "loser" can be swapped with "invaluable" to further show the comparison between people in power and their control over the narrative. This way of seeing also reinforces what is known as the Just Wor ld theory which is a belief system that hypothesizes a pattern that conveys predictability and appropriateness to judgment where individuals get what they deserve (Hamilton and Lerner 1980). This belief becomes problematic to the Other, primarily when the dominant culture controls the narrative. Once the oppressed agree and expressly comply with this theory, they eventually come to blame themselves for their misfortune and oppression. Numerous studies (e.g., Callan et al. 2014) show that the negative experi ences in life can lower self esteem and lead to self defeating beliefs and behaviors. This follows the idea that inferiority, coupled with the notion that the world is always just, can lead to practices that further emasculate people in the given populatio n to the point of


16 complacency. This idea is maintained in various cultures and driven by systems of power to sustain the status quo and help ensure social stability. Hate and Fear The mass media embrace and project images that are most popular among their target audience and this often means presenting stories that contain graphic, violent or sexual content We have seen in the work of the above authors that media messages play an essential role for expanding the dominant narrative and maintaining fears among dominant groups by showing violent and misleading rebellions and protests from the oppressed. Still, this analysis fails to consider the roles of other forms of communication such as entertainment or social media and the impacts these can have on both the oppressed and the oppressor's psyche It is important to note that movements like Black Lives Matter have been continually mis represented in popular media. This is a standard way large scale media outlets promote the criminality of the black body and construct an image of violence around movements such as this, and thus implanting a fantastical fear among white Americans that furthers the idea that the Other is a threat. A real world consequence lies with African Americans who refuse to engage in the act of self policing and are then deemed identity extremists by the FBI. The dichotomous structure between rational dominance and irrational inferiority is a precursor toward the surveillance and capture of the oppressed. Any individual not based o n the dominant discourse narrative becomes surveilled and is used as a weapon against the rest of the oppressed groups. This action becomes developed into more steps of self policing any thought of rebellion to avoid criminalization out of fear of backlash on the part of the dominant group. This is also


17 materialized in acts of intercommunal violence where groups paint themselves as the model minority to distance the criminalization that could arise as a result of their social status. This notion brings us back to the part of the narrative that Gitlin describes as harmful. The dominant groups can choose to publicize the stories that line up with their views the most, thus using these tools to manipulate the people who become more fearfu l. They can then further be fueled by fear and hate that translates in to a continued distancing from the Other either through violent means or social disassociation. Still, Gitlin's thesis is missing an explanation as to why this occurs in the first place. One apparent reason can be found not in an underlying fear of the Other, but rather the fear of losing superiority and power over them, thus flipping the hierarchy and becoming oppressed themselves. This allows us to imagine that the dominant culture is always vicious and violent, yet they may be stringent while being complacent with their privilege and not exercising their power in a directly harmful way. Under this view, the Other becomes anything but human, as recognizing their humanity is to acknowled ge the past forms of violence and continued macroaggression from the dominant group. A self acknowledgment of abuse is required for this that is a precursor to self sabo tage of power. It is innate to not want to cause harm to other humans, so it is easier for the dominant group to pretend the Other is not human, but a category of otherness and unknown that causes fear. What is not readily understood becomes questionable and concerning, because the unpredictability is what threatens one's standing in life. T his is the very foundation of xenophobia. Kurt Riezler (1994) develops a psychology of fear that draws attention to the influence of how people respond to being threatened. Communities try to understand consequences in ways


18 that overemphasize an unlikely but devastating possibility. Riezler suggests that, during times of crisis, the ordinary citizen develops a fear of the unknown. He analyzes how the system in place guide s the average person's judgment and actions to coincide with the values of the institu tions and those in power. Indefinite fear of the Other becomes undesirable compared to the absolute fear of the Oppressive powers. This can explain how the fear of the unknown can be used by institutions to pave the way to lead through areas of concern, ei ther placing the fear for Others or driving its people through fear of the government. The Neo Nazi Movement in the United States offers an astonishing example of the mixture of fear and hatred. This movement's foundation is one of concern that is compound ed by hate. Anti Semitic people are not born this way, but instead learn to hate others either through negative stereotyping or scapegoating. The more individuals think about a subject; t he more prone they are to becoming enthralled and obsessed with this idea (Zeki and Romaya 2008). This position creates a dangerous and toxic environment when met with others who share the same views on life and hate a particular group because of the fears they have of them. Arendt explain s this scapegoating by comparing it to Nazi nationalism against the Jewish people and does not define why the Jewish people were targeted other than to indicate that they were easy targets with already dormant negative stereotypes bounded in German society This theory is not far off especially when coupled with the causes of xenophobia and the need to protect the known which often exists through hatred and violence directed toward the unknown. Arendt also offers another explanation concerning the wealth th at the Jewish people had without any visible function that bred the resentment toward them throughout history, but when comparing their struggle against other oppressed groups that never had any apparent wealth to begin with, this theory is easily discredi ted. Instead, it is more viable to understand resentment as hatred for the Other, where the


19 dominant society highlights any observations that coincide with negative stereotypes they may believe about the Other. Although this hatred is dormant in many soci eties that refuse to admit to such distaste for the Other, the ability to continue to police and pathologize the Other is an action that is compounded through the hate and fear of the Other. Frank Wilderson (2007) suggests that history has made white socie ties, for example, not only able to guard and seek protection from police, but also become the police themselves by using innate fear to assume black criminality preemptively. This capability allows for gratuitous violence directed toward black Americans b ased on what are centrally irrational fears. This hate is also seen in recent history with any public's understanding and feelings toward refugees. Every generation in recent history has been prone to developing adverse reactions to refugees, whether the Vietnamese, Cubans, Irish, Haitians, or more recently the Middle East and Mexican migrants. The recent elections in the United States and across the po nd with Brexit played on defining and exploiting those fears which set the tone for victories and succes ses that would have been unheard of years prior. By developing a fear of the Other hatred follows soon after. This hatred provides the building blocks for oppression to arise, especially if carried out by a group that has historically known the most power Susan Fiske (20 12) proposes this hatred is bre d out of envy from experiencing a threat to a deserved self. Perceived illegitimacy from another group can produce anger, while the apparent threat to self can create a pain that groups react to negatively. Unlike other authors discussed in this text, however, Fiske focus es on the hatred and pain felt from the perspective of the Other toward the elites. Fiske asserts that wanting to damage a privileged person is the essence of envy


20 because not only does the disadvantaged group want to have more influence, but because the advantaged group is usually the one causing the disadvantaged position for the Other. This argument leads us to another point brought up by Fiske, who suggests that individuals eve n those in disadvantaged groups are unlikely to admit their envy because it would consequently admit their inferiority. However, Fiske maintains that this envy goes hand in hand with society. To maintain peace, communities uphold stability by advising that "know ing one's place" is a virtue and should be encouraged. If disadvantaged groups continue to feel envy in secret, it is unlikely that any social change will arise because these groups are more likely to endorse a kind of false consciousness. This is an insta nce where individuals are unable to see their own oppression. This analysis brings us back to the idea of a just world, and the notion of how pain and resentment toward other groups is a necessary precursor toward the antipathy that helps keep oppressive s ystems in place. These ideas show us that hate and fear in tandem are ultimately necessary for social oppression to arise and last. Pleasure and Pain Not only do these fear and hate narrative s get circulated in mainstream news sources but we also see forms of hatred in mainstream movies, popular television shows, and Facebook posts of people from all different kinds of cultural backgrounds. This suggests a universal fear of the unknown and the collective herd mentality many people may b e exposed to because the rejection of the Other has become so normalized. Shows like West W orld or Game of Thrones portray an alarming amount of gratuitous violence on people, especially people of color, that gets played out as entertainment for the dominant and oppressed cultures alike. Withi n these shows or


21 movies like Twelve Years a Slave exist s a certain attraction among viewers when exposed to particular types of material specifical ly the violence and continued oppression of people This suggest s that people subconsciously enjoy living vicariously through the media portrayals of violence and suffering Sigmund Freud ( 2015 ) suggests a "death drive that may explain why oppressed groups enjoy watching violence done on bodies via entertainment. In his theory, there exists a drive toward self destruction which is thought to be established in the mind's ability to reduce stress and is a reaction t o grat uitous violence. This paper suggests that one way to possibly end oppre ssion may be for the dominant and powerful societies or groups to experience this death drive, as it would entice them to self sabotage and bring an end to existing oppressive power dy namics. However, many fail to do this as they lack the need to undergo it in the first place. If the dominant culture does not suffer gratuitous violence, they do not, according to Freud, need to reduce the stress caused by the endless cycle of intensity. Therefore, there is no need to strive for a means to reduce the burden of oppression if no such abuse exists. This is not to say that the end of tyranny cannot come from an outside force, as many governments prove to fail from either the imprudence of thos e in power or the rage of those without influence. However, even when the oppressed fight back and gain control, an oppressive force is likely to e merge from within the system of government that is set up in its place. This brings us to question whether su ch an effect exists to end the cycle of oppression altogether. The other side of this pleasure from pain perspective is seen through the view of the oppressors. Azundris (2008) suggests that by associating a group with a negative or derogatory behavior or connotation, a dominant faction can more easily deconstruct their humanity and


22 allow for continuous violence. This creates a pathway for oppressors to view the pain narrative in a more pleasurable light because they have disassociated the Other from what it means to be human. Once this shift occurs, it becomes second nature to consider the Other's pain as a form of entertainment, even if the oppressors do not openly admit this. When a dominant group has deconstructed the Other's humanity and successf ully stripped them of their agency, they become objects for the Oppressors to use as entertainment. Although the dominant group may still feel anxious when watching violence as it is portrayed on the screen, there remains an underlying and subconscious dis connect when viewing the destruction of the Other since it does not carry the same historical impacts or connotations that follow the Other across time. Conclusion In order for oppression to exist, there must be a group that holds a certain amount of pow er over others. This power translates in to a superiority that enables a group to think that they are superior to other groups. This, in turn, creates a resentment toward a group when the dominant group feels they are at risk of losing their power or their advantageous position. When the dominant groups feel threatened, they create a variety of avenues to exploit their power further to circumvent the possibility of becoming oppressed. This emerges through creating an imagined threat of the Other, thus foster ing a fear and hatred of them while also deeming them to be inferior. While oppression has psychological impacts that seem to be timeless and span across generations, there is evidence that draws attention to the everyday consequences result ing in an oppr essed Other. Although individuals do not seek to cause harm to others, they circumvent this sentiment by using methods that dehumanize groups of people and use them as scapegoats for


23 their movements. This assumption leads the Oth e r to either lash out viole ntly which ultimately harms them more in the long run since it gives the dominant groups a legitimate reason to further oppress them out of fear of a revo lution or conform to the idea of being inferior to the dominant group. This form of massive and ge nerational "gaslighting" creates an entire sector of society that believes the world is just, and this has the consequence of normalizing different types of oppression. This cultural gaslighting is a psychological manipulation used by dominant groups to ca ll into question the oppressed way of seeing the world. Once self doubt is introduced, it becomes easier to follow the will or value system of the dominant group. A defined relationship exists between the oppression of a group of people and gratuitous violence that starts with the alleged superiority of the dominant group This leads dominant factions to further normalize this cruelty and add s to the idea that it is justified Fully understanding this oppression is challenging, but doing so is key to co mprehending the historical dimensions of social abuse that have emerged over time. This notion is particularly important as a way to understand those forms of oppression that come from a more blatant and violent past that has exploited gratuitous violence. It is also imperative to point out that there appear to be clear qualifications to become an "Other" but less clearly define d characteristics among those groups that become dominant. This is to say that the category of Other is always reliant on the dominant group. The more distant and distinct a group is from the dominant group, the more likely they will be deemed as inferior and easy to control. However, it is usually impossible to suggest which group will hold the most influence outright and withou t historical context. This paper has highlighted a variety of authors, their ideas on oppression, and what it does to both society and the psychology of the oppressed and their oppressors. For abuse to


24 emerge and thrive, particular circumstances must be m et that perpetuate oppression and make it a self sustaining entity that has no single conceivable way of ending it outright. First, there must be a dichotomous relationship between the dominant group and an oppressed group, where the former believes in its superiority and the innate inferiority of others. This arrangement helps to ensure that the oppressed group remains docile and willing to accept the circumstances of oppression in a way that appears to be justified from how the world treats them. This inf eriority is implemented and reinforced not only through the actions of the dominant group, but also through the inaction of the Other. This is not to say that the oppressed group is disinterested in stopping the oppression. The French Revolution or the Hai tian Revolution offer excellent examples of oppressed people banding together and overpowering the dominant groups. However, it is uncommon for such outbreaks to occur because of the way the system is created and sustained It is unlikely sociology will ev er find a single explanation for why or how oppression arises, as many contributing factors may add to its continued existence. Although human nature and psychology may offer possible answers, the mortal situation is often too complicated and varied. There may exist an innate need to control and hold influence over others because of how the brain developed through evolution, or it may all be random chance. Further studies would do well to draw on other authors for information on the human condition and ask whether a single society can exist without a group holding power over another. Further examination on concepts such as oppression may highlight the possibility of lessening its effects as it is unlikely to end tyranny altogether.


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